Ramadan Meals for Vulnerable Families in Lebanon Were More Joyous Thanks to Food Assistance
Anera and IRUSA teamed up to provide healthy meals and more during Ramadan
Ramadan is Islam’s holiest month. It is a time of fasting and reflection. After sundown families gather for meals and conversation but in Lebanon this year, that activity was harder to accomplish.
Vulnerable families were forced to stretch out food supplies to accommodate the whole month on a reduced budget. Lebanon’s economic crisis has hit them hard. Since 2019, Lebanon’s currency has lost more than 90% of its value. Officially, it is one of the world’s worst economic meltdowns since the 1850s.
Anera and its partners and donors rushed to help. Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has been working with Anera in Palestine for several years. This year, for the first time, IRUSA joined forces with Anera in Lebanon to implement a Ramadan humanitarian relief campaign.
“Over the past two years, Lebanon has suffered an unprecedented economic crisis that has destabilized the country and resulted in severe financial hardship for many families,” says IRUSA CEO Sharif Aly. “To address the ongoing volatility, Islamic Relief USA and Anera expanded our efforts to provide food security to Palestinian and Syrian refugees, as well as vulnerable Lebanese host communities in Mount Lebanon.” Sharif says their efforts ensured that these groups received food aid in a dignified manner during Ramadan. “Our duty is to serve the less fortunate.”
With funding from IRUSA, Anera’s food security program team put together large Ramadan food parcels for 5,059 families, meaning that 25,295 people, young and old, benefited.
Palestinian refugee Mohamad Hassan Abu Al-Hali is 80 years old. He lives in Wadi Al Zeena in southern Lebanon. He says he had trouble accepting that, at his age, he had to wait in line for a food parcel. But, he needed help to survive. “Aid like this has become the only source of food for refugees like me here in Lebanon”.
Mr. Hassan explained the terrible living conditions inside the Palestinian camps across Lebanon. Poverty and extreme destitution dominate the camps like never before.
He remembered other Ramadans in his family’s past. “Ramadan changed a lot after my grandparents were forced from their homes when Israel came into being in 1948. They ended up in Lebanon. They told me that Ramadan used to bring prosperity and peace of mind when they were on their own land. Today, for me, poverty and misery are my reality. But I hope that will change for future generations.”
Nour is a 21-year-old Palestinian and considers herself a member of that future generation. She has been volunteering with Anera for nearly four years. She was present at almost all the IRUSA distributions. “I am very happy that IRUSA’s support made it possible to deliver enough food aid to help thousands of families throughout Ramadan. Food is the most basic human right.”
The IRUSA-Anera Ramadan project did not only include food parcels. The project team also distributed food vouchers worth $50 each. The 5,059 families received five food vouchers throughout Ramadan, which gave them the freedom to select their own foods to compliment what they got in the parcels.
Oum-Bilal is a 35-year-old Syrian-Palestinian refugee mother whose family, like thousands of Syrian-Palestinians, has been displaced twice in her lifetime. She moved from Palestine to Syria, and then from Syria to Lebanon to escape the war there. Ramadan is a time of nostalgia for her. “Ramadan in previous years happened in better conditions. Today, securing a daily meal is almost impossible because of high costs.”
Umm Bilal acknowledged she could not have fed her family properly without Anera’s support. “Our only source of income today is this kind of aid that comes through international associations like Anera.”
Anera Country Director Samar El Yassir is very proud of the Ramadan campaign and its partnership with IRUSA. “Addressing food security during Ramadan and during Lebanon’s economic crisis is both an urgent need and a duty. It is our responsibility to ensure the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach families receive food in a dignified manner during this month and beyond. The smiles on everyone’s face was the ultimate reward for me and the team ”
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