Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lebanese Christians caring for traumatised and despairing refugees

I stood in the crowded corridor of the St Antoine, Dispensary, Roueisset, near Beirut. Small children cuddled up sitting on their mother's knees, waiting for vital inoculations. The families waiting at this busy centre are mostly Syrian but I spoke to a young Iraqi mother, with her three children. Sr Hanan, who runs the Dispensary, told me that  more Iraqis have   arrived in the last few weeks - after the frightening outbreak of conflict in Iraq. Now, too, more Lebanese mothers are coming to this clinic - as they are poor, due to prices increasing for housing and as many jobs have been taken by Syrians who work for cheaper wages.

As I squeeze my way out of the Dispensary, a terrified teenage girl from Aleppo is sobbing uncontrollably - shaking and muttering to herself, her mother tries to comfort her as she leads her in to see the psychiatrist. Sr Hanan explains that there are so many cases - children, teenagers and adults -  who need help and trauma counselling after what they have seen, lived through and suffered.

Later in the day, in the Bekaa Valley near Baalbeck - where Hezbollah is visibly present -  I meet Syrian refugees in their tents on a camp site at Deir Al Ahmar. One deaf man, Abed, is living with wife, Adla, six daughters and four boys in their basic tent. I sit on a cushion talking with the family. There is a shortage of water, after a dry winter, and the conditions are barely survivable. Adla tells me: "It is not a life here. My husband is deaf and cannot work. The state helped us in Syria, but we receive nothing here. We want to go back when we can... but now we need help."

Sr Micheline and all the Good Shepherd Sisters are working with a small group of people to help. Aid to the Church in Need and others are supporting their work of compassion at this crucial time. Sr Micheline thanked all who help - and, as she stood in front of a picture of the Good Shepherd, painted by a Muslim, she added: "We, and all the children, pray for you who give us food and medicine and help fund activities for the children. May the Good Shepherd bless you!"                                      

Neville Kyrke-Smith
National Director of ACN UK

Beirut, Lebanon, 25.06.14

Photo attached of Abed & Aldo's family with refugees in Deir al Ahmar

No comments:

Post a Comment