LEBANON: Salesian missionaries in Beirut provide food, shelter and support to families in need after the deadly explosion
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Beirut, Lebanon, have been providing food, shelter and support to families affected by the Aug. 4 explosion that has killed more than 200 people, according to a news report in the BBC. Many are still missing, including several foreign workers. Following the explosion, the city erupted into protest over the government’s response to the disaster.
In a video message, Salesian Father Simon Zakerian said, “We are here where this explosion took place in the port of Beirut where so many people have left this world. There are still so many people missing, many are injured, and there is so much damage to the whole of Beirut and the whole country. It’s a very sad thing, a thing that makes you cry.”
Fr. Zakerian added, “Despite this destruction and these difficulties, our young Salesian animators have joined youth groups of the diocese of Jbeil, and with them also the young Muslims, all the young people of Lebanon, have decided to voluntarily put themselves at the service of people most in need. Young people give hope, joy and take to the streets to help and to reaffirm that we must build our city together, remaining united.”
Salesians have been working in Lebanon long before this disaster providing education and social supports for youth and families in poverty, and they will be there long after to help rebuild the community and people’s lives. Salesians have focused their relief efforts on the victims of the powerful explosion, including Syrian refugees and Lebanese residents who suffered the loss of family members, homes and jobs. Fr. Zakerian said, “We’re visiting the houses to see how they are and how they are dealing with these difficulties and to give help.”
The Salesian Mission Office in Turin, Italy, has sent help to respond to immediate needs while also launching a fundraiser for further relief efforts. To date, 80 families have already received relief support from Salesians.
More than 25 percent of Lebanese citizens live in poverty. Poverty drops to 16 percent in urban areas like the capital city of Beirut, but climbs to 36 percent in some rural areas, according to the World Bank. Children from poor families are less likely to be able to complete their education and have limited employment opportunities as they get older. Many end up stuck in low-wage, seasonal and high turnover positions. As many as 20 percent of Lebanese citizens live with unimproved sanitation facilities and 10 percent of poor households have no access to clean drinking water.
Lebanon is also dealing with more than 1 million refugees who have fled the Syrian civil war, according to UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency. Salesian missionaries have been working in Lebanon since 1952 and currently have two centers. The center in Fidar has Don Bosco Technique and a youth center. The Salesian community in El Houssoun has an oratory and a reception house that has been housing Catholic refugees since the start of the war in Syria.
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World Bank – Lebanon
Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.