This Ramadan, Anera is distributing boxes with nutritious food items such as rice, canned tuna, and oil to vulnerable families in Lebanon's camps.
As we make our way through a maze of narrow streets, dodging electrical wires and laundry lines while walking over crushed soda cans and cigarette butts, we can’t help but see the poverty and neglect around us; taking in scene after scene of something reminiscent in a war movie.
This is the Shatila camp; one of 12 refugee camps established in Lebanon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War to accommodate the thousands of Palestinians who had fled or were expelled during the 1948 exodus. There are approximately 450,000 registered refugees in Lebanon. Shatila camp alone is home to nearly 10,000 refugees, many of whom are Syrians who had recently escaped the war-torn country after the eruption of the war in 2011.
After walking a while through the camp, we finally reach a broken flight of stairs leading to a shabby little house. This is where Ahmad lives – a veteran resident of the camp and a father to 10 children; two of whom have disabilities. Ahmad was at a local Anera distribution center earlier in the day and had waited patiently for his turn to collect a Ramadan food package. Life for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is tough and these parcels provide relief, especially during the Ramadan season.
“My only son works as a van driver. He makes around 200 dollars a month, from which he gives me 50 or 60 dollars. That’s it. That’s all my family and I live on.” Ahmad says, as he wipes the sweat off his forehead.
Anera is working with the Palestinian Disability Forum to identify families who have one or more members with disabilities as recipients for food parcels. The parcels, which contain a generous supply of healthy items, are being distributed across camps in the Beirut area as well as north and south Lebanon. Anera distributed 200 parcels in Shatila.
When we arrived, a large crowd had already started queuing outside the Ahlam Lajei Center − a local association which facilitated the distribution of the food packages. Women, children and men, who had been waiting anxiously for their turn, left smiling looking joyous and relieved. These food packages go a long way in providing families living in dire conditions with something to smile about and act as tokens of kindness. A reminder that there are still people outside the confines of the camp who working hard to try and ease some of their suffering.
“We’re very happy and thankful to receive these packages and hope next year you can do this again and maybe more!” - Ahmad, father and recipient of an Anera food package