Everything Is Falling Apart In My Beloved Country
I really can’t believe what’s happening to my beloved country. I think it’s fair to say that Lebanon has officially fallen. I honestly have never felt this desperate and sad. We’ve been through years of civil war, and yet I still haven’t seen it this bad. Things have been deteriorating for a long time – since the autumn of 2019. But now we are bearing witness to everything falling apart and we can’t do anything to stop it.
The dollar is skyrocketing against the Lebanese lira. Today, as of this writing, it just surpassed 15,000 LL to one dollar – 10 times more than it was in October 2019. There appears to be no limit to the drop in value of our money. One day you think it’s gone as low as it can go, and then it gets worse the next day. We wonder where the reserves are in the central bank to halt the slide and back a recovery. There don’t seem to be any. And still we’re not seeing any positive actions from the government to reverse the situation.
There is a wave of panic rushing through the country. Shops are shutting their doors because they don’t know what prices to set. Suppliers are no longer making commodities available for the same reason. Petrol stations aren’t selling gas.
People are desperately trying to stock up on food and other essentials, but the prices — literally in just the past couple days — have almost doubled. Fights break out over a bottle of milk or a loaf of bread. It’s tragic.
Roads are blocked off and people are taking to the streets again, angrier than ever over the inaction. Outside governments, like France and the US, do not seem to be taking action to halt our decline.
Of course, our Anera staff is affected by the situation too, like everyone. We feel the stress and worry. But we also feel fortunate, because we run our programs using dollars. And our programs are directly helping people. We are frankly using this as an opportunity to do even more.
For instance, we are preparing for Ramadan food distributions in advance of the holy month. We can buy supplies for food parcels because we have access to ‘fresh’ dollars (as cash recently deposited from abroad has become known).* We’re also immediately stepping up and expanding our cash-for-work program that pays young people in our vocational education programs to deliver different kinds of aid to vulnerable communities. The wages these young people earn helps them support their families and gives them an important sense of purpose in the face of the challenges their communities grapple with.
Our responsibility to support the people of Lebanon is more important than ever – and I don’t say that lightly. I tell our staff here: “We have the resources. We have the means. We’re here. And we can get it done. So, let’s just do it!”
* These fresh dollars have become highly valued because they are not subjected to withdrawal restrictions by the banks.
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