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Current Issue
July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
  
16 July 2019
Doreen Abi Raad




Students at Fratelli enjoy a sports class. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)

In the new edition of ONE, journalist Doreen Abi Raad profiles a place Where Education Is Alive, the Fratelli Center in Lebanon. She offers some additional impressions below.

To reach the Fratelli Center in Rmeileh, Lebanon, the exit from the coastal highway near the southern city of Sidon leads to a lovely, winding road dotted with all kinds of flowering trees.

I imagine that Syrian refugee children, living nearby in dire conditions, perhaps also admire the beautiful landscape on their way to and from the center on the bus provided by CNEWA.

Fratelli is a non-profit association jointly founded by the De La Salle Brothers and Marist Brothers in Lebanon in 2016 with the goal of organizing educational, social and cultural activities for poor and vulnerable children.

From the former Marist Our Lady of Fatima school in Rmeileh, abandoned during Lebanon’s civil war, the Fratelli Center serves more than 600 children and youth, Syrian refugees as well as poor Lebanese. Most of the students are Muslim. Teachers and volunteers are Muslim and Christian alike.

It’s morning recess time. Children are running, screeching, laughing, some kicking soccer balls, immersed in exuberant momentum. Yet there’s nothing chaotic: It’s simply blissful joy, every child’s face radiant with a smile.

Three young boys run to Marist Brother Andrés Porras, hugging him in unison, nearly knocking him over with their enthusiasm. “How are you today?” he asks the students, returning their hugs and encouraging them to speak in English.

“For me, these children are the daily presence of God, it is very transparent, how they share their happiness and look in your eyes with such pureness,” Brother Andrés says.

When it’s time to get serious at the ringing of a teacher’s handbell, the children quietly line up, ready to return to classrooms, still brimming with joy. They are so eager to learn.

In the first grade classroom for Syrian refugee children, a colorful poster of “Fratelli Class Rules” is prominently displayed. The rules include: ”I will be honest and kind…I will respect myself and others…I will not be a bully…I will do my best…I come to school to learn.” The students indeed are doing their best, listening to their teacher with rapt attention and confidently reciting arithmetic drills in English.

For Fratelli’s afternoon basic literacy and numeracy program for youth, 16-year-old Zahra arrives with a sweet smile, after working in agriculture from 6 am to noon with her father, to help support her family. They fled to Lebanon from Idlib, Syria in 2012.

Zahra expected that with no fear of war, everything would be better in Lebanon. But life in her adopted country has been very difficult, she admits with a mature resolve. Her family lives in poverty; she missed out on school for several years, and she must work to help out financially.

Thanks to Fratelli, Zahra has restarted her education, opening a path for a better future. Ever since she was young, Zahra dreamed of being a pediatrician.

Zahra hopes to return to her homeland someday. But she would like her country to be as it was before the war.

For now, Zahra considers Fratelli “my second home.”

“Or to be honest, it is my main home. It’s the place where I feel free,” she says, adding that the teachers “are like a family to me.”

Read more about Fratelli in the July 2019 edition of ONE.



Tags: Lebanon Refugees

28 June 2019
CNEWA Staff




The July 2019 edition of ONE is now online.

Looking for some great reading this summer? The new edition of CNEWA’s award-winning magazine ONE is now online.

In the July 2019 edition, readers can visit a remarkable school in Lebanon; meet Syrians finding a new home with ancient roots in Armenia; discover how some of Egypt’s poorest residents are reclaiming dignity, even when living among garbage; and rediscover how each of us has a vocation.

It’s a rich and inspiring collection of stories and we’re pleased to share them with you this summer.

Check out the video preview from our president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, below. And click here to read more online.



Tags: ONE magazine

27 June 2019
CNEWA Staff




CNEWA-Pontifical Mission marked 70 years of service to the church of Jerusalem with Mass at the chapel of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre. (photo: CNEWA)

On 18 June 2019, our Jerusalem team marked 70 years of service to the peoples of the church of Jerusalem with a celebration of the Eucharist at the chapel of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, presided. The solemn Mass was dedicated to all those who have served CNEWA-Pontifical Mission.

A special assembly was held after the liturgy. Regional Director Joseph Hazboun offered words of welcome to the guests, which included Mar Gabriel Dahho, Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Jerusalem; Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land; representatives of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Galilee and Jerusalem and the Syriac Catholic Church; priests, religious sisters, representatives of local Catholic aid organizations; and directors of partner institutions. The program included a short film highlighting the work of CNEWA-Pontifical Mission, a bagpipe performance of the Palestinian National Anthem by the Melkite Greek Catholic Scout Troop in Jerusalem and a Dabke dance performance by Siwar Association for Culture and Arts.

The Melkite Greek Catholic Scout Troop performed the Palestinian National Anthem on bagpipes after the liturgy. (photo: CNEWA)

The event marked, to the day, Pope Pius XII’s establishment of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, an ad hoc committee founded to coordinate and deliver worldwide Catholic aid for Palestinian refugees displaced by the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Placed by the pope under the direct administration of CNEWA, the Pontifical Mission’s activities have been expanded under succeeding pontiffs to include care for all those displaced by war and migration throughout the Middle East, as well as the support for the pastoral and humanitarian works of the churches of the region.

In collaboration with local Christian institutions, aid through our Jerusalem office has reached thousands of families, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and youth, the sick and the elderly, all of whom need basic services, especially in areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip where resources are very limited. Over the years, the agency has also supported programs that help preserve Palestinian culture and heritage, and helped fund educational and formation initiatives for children, especially underserved communities in Palestine and Israel, including the children of migrants from Africa and Asia.

CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s enduring presence in the Middle East is a tangible sign of the Holy Father’s sincere concern for the needy, the dispossessed, the refugee and the underprivileged.

To learn more about CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s activities in the Middle East, please visit here.



Tags: CNEWA Jerusalem CNEWA Pontifical Mission

24 June 2019
CNEWA Staff




CNEWA’s ONE magazine took home top honors from the Catholic Press Association at its annual awards last week.

CNEWA’s flagship publication, ONE, took home top honors at the Catholic Media Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, last week.

The magazine was named Magazine of the Year (Mission Magazine category) at the Catholic Press Association Awards, and won 26 others in a wide range of categories including writing, photography, blogging and design.

In addition, the magazine’s publisher, Msgr. John E. Kozar, received the prestigious Bishop John England Award, which annually honors a publisher who has been a staunch defender of press freedom.

In one magazine category, Best Layout or Article Column, CNEWA’s graphic designer Paul Grillo swept all the awards — and also won second place in the All Member Awards for Graphic Artist/Designer of the Year.

Citing the overall quality of the magazine, the judges praised the “great work” of the staff, cited the “excellent” layouts, singled out the “beautiful, informative coverage” and made a point to underscore the “exceptional journalism” that has become a hallmark of the publication.

The judges included faculty from Spring Hill College, Loyola University, Marquette University and media professionals and journalists from around the country.

A complete list of the awards can be found below, with links to the winning stories:

First Place:

Magazine/Newsletter of the Year (Mission Magazines)

Best Layout or Article Column (Mission Magazines): This, Our Exile by Paul Grillo

Best Feature Article (Mission Magazines): For I Was in Prison by Don Duncan

Best Reporting on a Special Age Group: Windows to the World by Mark Raczkiewycz

Best Writing — In-Depth: Confronting Abuse of Women in Georgia by Molly Corso

Best Multiple Picture Package — Feature: This, Our Exile by Petterik Wiggers

Best Single Photo, Color: Thoroughfare in Mai-Aini refugee camp by Petterik Wiggers

Second Place:

Best Electronic Newsletter: “Discover ONE Online”

Graphic Artist/Designer of the Year: Paul Grillo

Best Blog — Group or Association: One-to-One by CNEWA Staff

Best Layout or Article Column (Mission Magazines): ‘For I Was in Prison’ by Paul Grillo

Best Coverage — Immigration:

Inspiring the Faithful in Jordan by Dale Gavlak

This, Our Exile by Emeline Wuilbercq

A Refuge in Lebanon by Doreen Abi Raad

Best Feature Article (Mission Magazines): This, Our Exile by Emeline Wuilbercq

Best Writing — In-Depth: A Source of Light by Gayane Abrahamyan

Best Multiple Picture Package — Feature: Windows to the World by Ivan Chernichkin

Third Place:

Best Layout or Article Column (Mission Magazines): A Letter From Iraq by Paul Grillo

Best Coverage — Ecumenical/Interfaith Issues:

Defining ‘Christian’ in Palestine by Samar Hazboun

‘For I Was in Prison’ by Don Duncan

Healing the Forgotten by Anubha George

Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues — Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: Healing the Forgotten by Anubha George

Honorable Mention:

Best Cover, Color: ONE magazine, June 2018 by Paul Grillo and Nazik Armenakyan

Best Online Content Not Published in Print: CNEWA Connections by Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

Best Essay (Mission Magazines): A Letter From Iraq by Sister Clara Nacy

Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues — Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: Confronting Abuse of Women in Georgia by Molly Corso

Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues — Solidarity: Signs of Hope by Magdy Samaan

Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues — Life and Dignity of the Human Person: Windows to the World by Mark Raczkiewycz

Best Story and Photo Package: This, Our Exile by Emeline Wuilbercq and Petterik Wiggers

Best Writing — In-Depth: A Refuge to Mend and Grow by Anubha George

Best Multiple Picture Package — Feature: For I Was in Prison by Don Duncan



Tags: CNEWA Catholic Press

5 June 2019
Carl Hétu




Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak speaks to his flock in Philadelphia after his enthronement. (photo: CNEWA)

I had the privilege of representing CNEWA yesterday at the enthronement ceremony of Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak, as he became head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia — and, consequently, leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the United States.

More than 1,000 people from around the world — including CNEWA’s chair, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York — came to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for this important day.

There was a great atmosphere in the cathedral, and no wonder: Metropolitan Borys has demonstrated in the last 20 years that he is driven by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work. He has inspired so many, in many corners of the world. I am reminded in particular of the remarkable work he has done at the Ukrainian Catholic University, where he was one of the founders.

In his very humble and moving speech after the liturgy, he spoke brilliantly of his vision for the church. He warned people not to be too distracted with all the glory of the celebration, with its fine vestments. Yes, it is a grand day, he said, and we should celebrate. But, he added, the church is about finding Jesus and promoting his teachings.

The metropolitan also asked a good friend in a wheelchair to come and join him for part of his talk. He alluded to the humanitarian and theologian, the recently deceased Jean Vanier, saying that he is a model of what the church should be. He explained how Jesus is found in the poor, in the handicapped, in the marginalized. The church is to serve them, he said, and he invited everyone to join him and the Lord in this great work.

Metropolitan Borys was clearly moved by the day and by the task ahead. I was humbled to be there for this moment. I left the cathedral uplifted and inspired — more committed than ever to continue CNEWA’s work with Ukrainian church leaders such as him in Ukraine, in Canada and in the United States.

For more, read Prayer and Protest, Borys Gudziak’s first-person account of the 2013 Kiev uprising in the Spring 2014 edition of ONE.



Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

10 May 2019
CNEWA Staff




Some of the girls at the Abune Endreans Children's Home in Ethiopia pray during Mass.
(photo: CNEWA)


Recently, we received an encouraging update from Argaw Fantu, our regional director in Addis Ababa, about a home for children that CNEWA is supporting in Ethiopia:

The Apostolic Vicariate of Harar, in the eastern Ethiopia, was erected in March 1937. Since then, the Catholic Church has become more visible with its social development services — providing education, emergency services during times of food shortage, and potable water for the vast rural population.

For a variety of reasons, family life in this part of the country can sometimes be unstructured and lead to poverty. Some of the children are semi-orphans. The Catholic Church in eastern Ethiopia is striving to help young girls and children through boarding facilities and the guidance of Capuchin priests.

The Abune Endreans Children’s Home in Dire Dawa is one of these initiatives. It has helped many girls to grow, become self-reliant, and contribute to the good of others. Several weeks ago, CNEWA’s staff from Addis Ababa had an opportunity to visit this home and meet the children, their guardian Capuchin community and Abune Angelo Pagano, OFM, Cap, the Apostolic Vicar of Harar.

The girls are receiving a good education, following a well-organized schedule for study and chores. Older girls are in charge of assisting and training younger ones. This kind of program, we learned, allows children to grow — being responsible for each other and becoming caretakers of one another.

Abba Wondwossen Wube helps some students during class. (photo: CNEWA)

We met two girls who recently went to university for their higher studies after successfully completing secondary education. They were at the home during their semester break. They said that the home is everything for them. Though they have left the home to study, they said they really missed the family atmosphere. That is why they came during their break to stay with their “sisters.”

Abba Wondwossen Wube, OFM, Cap, recently assigned to be in charge of the home, said that the girls in this home are very special. On Saturdays, they are caretakers of the parish church compound; he said that they like singing and serving in the church. They feel very responsible for each other.

In the past, many girls have passed through this home. A few of them are now supporting it in whatever ways they can. For example, as Abba Wondossen put it,”one of the former resident girls of this home, who now lives in the United States, comes every summer and covers the annual school fees of many girls. Some others at one time bought a washing machine for the home. At another time, some former residents helped repair the kitchen. When I see these things, I feel proud of my Church.”

CNEWA is a longtime supporter of Abune Endreas Children’s Home. Currently 48 girls are being served there. CNEWA covers many of the larger expenses for maintaining the home, and we sincerely thank our donors who have made all this possible. The visit was very touching. Looking around the area and reflecting on the changing landscape of the vicariate, we witnessed the significant effort of the Catholic Church to help these young girls through this facility and others. Our partners are really navigators through these waves of challenges. Thank you, indeed!

Some of the young ladies pose for a portrait. (photo: CNEWA)



Tags: Ethiopia Education

25 April 2019
Carl Hétu




A young woman holds candles during a vigil in Lahore, Pakistan, on 23 April 2019, in solidarity with the victims of Sri Lanka's Easter suicide bomb attacks. (photo: CNS/Mohsin Raza, Reuters)

At Mass a few weeks ago, I heard an unusual noise coming from the entrance of the church. Without thinking, I turned and found myself fearing the worst. An attack? After Mass I asked others if they felt the same way and, to my surprise, some did. How many of us are experiencing this type of fear in our places of worship? For most Canadians, the answer is not at all; the risk of this happening is still very slim, after all.

But it may not feel that way. This past Easter Sunday, the killings of innocent Catholics while celebrating Mass in Sri Lanka would certainly reinforce this fear. We could add to this the stabbing of a priest while celebrating Mass at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal; just before that, the killing of innocent Muslims in a New Zealand mosque; and last year, the killing of innocent Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue. The list, regrettably, goes on.

Are these despicable acts of terror and inhumanity starting to have their effect on our sense of safety?

As we just celebrated the great feast of Easter — not just with chocolate bunnies but with the same spiritual vibrancy that millions of Christians still feel today — let’s remember that there is another way to fight this looming fear.

I’m refering to the Christians of countries such as Egypt who, over the past 10 years or so, have experienced the worst at the hands of well-armed and organized extremist groups that are determined to target minorities on specific feasts and in sacred spaces. Easter and Christmas, for example, are moments of particular worry for thousands of Christians in that country.

A few years ago, I traveled to Egypt and experienced how this drama plays out. One night, in a rural town, I joined a local Coptic Catholic community to celebrate Epiphany. To my surprise, I saw a small battalion of well-armed men coming to the church. They’re here to protect us, I was told. Somehow this didn’t reassure me.

I was in shock to hear that this happens all over Egypt: armed men come to Mass to protect the faithful. “How do you do it?,” I asked, referring to the heavy burden and fear on their shoulders. Their answer was very simple. “There is a level of fear, sure, but we’ve been practicing our faith, here, for more than 2000 years,” I was told. “We’ve lived through much worse and we have a mission given to us by Jesus.”

And there it is. Our journey is to follow Christ, wherever that may lead us. We shouldn’t be afraid when we are led towards people who are different from us; but, rather, we should follow the example of Middle East Christians and persevere in encountering others through dialogue, service and love, no matter what. Each day, these Christians offer inspiring works in the areas of healthcare, education and service to the handicapped, elderly, poor and so many more, regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

All are welcome. They know by experience that God’s compassion and mercy are the keys to fighting fear, building lasting relationships and, ultimately, bringing a lasting peace.

The terrorists can attack them, and yes, there will be broken families, pain, and horror, as in Sri Lanka this past Easter weekend. However, our Egyptian brothers and sisters can be witnesses that the faith will remain and love will prevail through forgiveness, reconciliation and compassion. It isn’t easy to do — but what an example to follow.

These values are the basis of CNEWA’s mission and this is why we have been working with Eastern Christians in the Middle East, India, northeastern Africa and Eastern Europe since 1926. They are the ones who started it all with great sacrifices and pain — but also with an amazing and deep commitment to Jesus.

So yes: in my parish earlier this month, for a short moment, I was distracted. But ultimately, I will keep my focus on the love of Jesus, which will help me to counter fear and to live in peace — no matter what.



Tags: Egypt CNEWA Canada

15 April 2019
Anubha George




Father Sebastian meets with two survivors of the storm, Joy Kannatt and his son.
(photo: Meenakshi Soman)


In the March 2018 edition of ONE, writer Anubha George describes in vivid detail what happened in Kerala last summer When the Rains Came. Below, she offers some additional impressions:

How do you even begin to take in the devastation that a natural disaster causes? What do you say to someone who has lost family, friends and pets? How do you forget the tears of people who tell you life will never be the same again? I have no answers and perhaps I never will.

Last summer, the southern Indian state of Kerala was affected by severe flooding. At least 400 people died. More than a million people lost their homes and were displaced in relentless monsoon rains. Kerala hasn’t endured anything like it in over a century.

All of us in Kerala were glued to our television sets in that week of mid-August 2018. We saw pictures of landslides that blocked the roads in the hilly areas of Kerala. We watched people crying out for help as the rivers swelled and the water made its way into their homes. We saw the rescue and relief operation that saved lives. We all came together as a community, irrespective of religion or class. We cooked for each other and prayed together.

But none of that prepared me for what I saw when we visited Idukki, a place overwhelmed by landslides caused by excessive rain and flooding. Idukki is beautiful and picturesque. Photographs do not do it justice. The tall green trees right to the top of the highest hills make your heart sing.

But it was the same tall trees that fell on houses in the early hours of a mid-August morning, just before daybreak. The only way I can describe it is this: look up at the sky. Now imagine the sky falling down on you. No matter what you see on television or the videos you watch on social media, that is what it is in a nutshell: it is the sky falling down on you.

But what was heartwarming was the effort — especially of the church — to help those in need. The Rev. Sebastian Kochupurackal, one of the friendliest, kindest, most generous people I have ever met, took us around. He heads the High Range Development Society (HRDS), the social arm of Idukki diocese. He knew every single person by their name. He held hands and consoled. He was ever hopeful and cheery.

We went up the hills to meet parishioners. The stories had one common theme: Thank God, I’m alive and my family is safe. Father Sebastian said in times of natural calamity, we take stock of things. That nothing is permanent. Things can change in the blink of an eye. But we are also supremely grateful for the gift of life.

We spent time with people who had lost everything they owned. In a house down the hill, we found a picture of Jesus in the rubble. The lady who lived there picked it up. It was a miracle that the picture was there, she said. All else had been washed away in the rain and the landslide that followed. The church, she knows, will help her. She cried.

But she was not weeping in sorrow. Those were tears of hope that everything would be alright.

You can read more about the flooding in When the Rains Came.

Also, CNEWA’s regional director in India, M.L. Thomas, shares his own personal account of the storm in the video below.



Tags: India Kerala

28 March 2019
Michel Constantin




On the road outside Rableh, Syria, visitors see the extent of the damage from years of war.
(photo: CNEWA)


We received the following report a few days ago from our regional director in Beirut, Lebanon, Michel Constantin:

To better assess and evaluate the current situation in Syria — now that the regime’s forces have regained control of more than 75 percent of the country and secured the major cities and rural areas — CNEWA-Pontifical Mission visited our partners so as to touch base with the beneficiaries of our aid and the volunteers who are work on behalf of the church.

Our plan was to visit three areas: the capital of Damascus; the central city of Homs and Tartus on the coast; and finally, Aleppo, where we were asked to participate in a special synod of the churches organized locally to discuss the challenges facing the Christian community there, once the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the visit to Aleppo was canceled for security reasons. On the same day we were scheduled to travel there, heavy shelling targeted downtown Aleppo. Nevertheless, we were able to follow the work of the meetings and we were updated on the findings and recommendations.

What follows are our impressions and findings:

Military attacks continue to decrease, especially since the areas under the opposition or the extremists are now very restricted to one area in the northwest of the country (Edlib and the surrounding area, controlled by the extremist militia of Al Nusra) and the northeast (east of the Euphrates River under the Kurdish militias supported mainly by the United States). However, this stability should not be confused with long-term peace, which some question as doubtful. Some observers fear fragmentation and the ethnic cleansing of areas that fall either to government or Kurdish control. This could spin out of control, for example, should both parties face each other in battle around Deir Ezzor. This is particularly dangerous, as each side is backed by different outside powers.

The territorial defeat of ISIS does not mean it will cease to exist. Rather, it is likely to adapt its strategy, continue underground, and use more guerrilla and terrorist tactics. The problem in Syria is not just ISIS, but the lack of inclusive governance and equal opportunities in the country. These are the root causes that enabled ISIS to grow. The organization is not a cause but a consequence of the underlying political situation. As a result, the defeat of ISIS will not lead to the end of the conflict in Syria. If the root causes are not addressed, the conflict is likely to continue. In addition, new conflicts and new extremist groups might arise.

On the other hand, in the aftermath of the war and with the absence of a clear and united opposition, any political process without a clear strategy carries risks. A power vacuum — or political, ethnic or sectarian tensions — could become a source of renewed conflict, which may lead to the further destabilization of the region.

Socially and economically, the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria — and the resulting rupture of socioeconomic ties inflicted on the nation’s economy — has seriously damaged the infrastructure. It has reversed or significantly slowed not only the development of Syria itself, but also of its neighbors — first of all Lebanon and Jordan — as well as Turkey. This has exacerbated the situation in these states and has created new risks.

The streets of Homs are showing signs of life. (photo: CNEWA)

Conditions need to be created for the return of refugees and the restoration of life-support systems. These can bring not only humanitarian or economic dividends, but also political and strategic ones. But despite the improvement of the security situation in many areas, international experience shows that the absence of fighting is rarely the trigger for return of the displaced people. Numerous other factors are involved. These include:

Loss of human capital. The number of people lost to injury, death or emigration is staggering, and it will create permanent hardship for generations of Syrians. The decrease in the quality and quantity of public services — due to international sanctions on one hand and the absence of the qualified staff on the other — is clearly shown in schools, universities and especially in hospitals and other medical services. It is important to mention that more than 90 percent of available services in the country are public services. Moreover, many on the ground are saying that the highly qualified personnel who left Syria for other countries during the war were often granted citizenship rights. This means they were integrated into the society and the economy, and it makes their return to Syria unlikely, if not almost impossible

Security and socioeconomic conditions. Economic sanctions against Syria and its ally Iran impact directly the situation for Syrians on the ground. For there to be any improvement, sanctions must be eased, if not lifted altogether, reported local church leaders. The severe shortage of basic supplies, such as electricity, fuel and gas, has made it difficult to produce and export products for external markets, cutting off Syria from the flow of cash and imports. Until there is a change in the status of sanctions, post-conflict life will be much harder on the remaining population and will delay the return of the more than 5.6 million Syrians registered as refugees outside the country.

During our visit, we were in contact with school teachers and other civil servants who reported that their salaries have lost most of their purchasing power, falling more than 800 percent, from $600 per month before 2011 to $72 in 2019. And when we inquired regarding the need to continue with some emergency activities, we were told that sometimes even buying a bottle of vegetable oil would represent a challenge. More seriously, others informed us that some people lost their lives because they were not able to pay for the cost of dialysis treatment, which costs on average $25 per session.

Access to property and assets. Law No. 10 of 2018 established the concept of “renovation zones,” which put conditions on residents who want to return to their properties. They must present their deeds or proof of ownership within a certain short time period, or risk losing everything. Knowing that already many deeds were lost, the public perceived this step very negatively and many consider it a threat. There is much uncertainty.



Tags: Syria ISIS

22 February 2019
Michel Constantin




Families line up to receive medical care and food at the dispensary. (photo: CNEWA)

Lebanon is now witnessing a new phenomenon, according to our local church partner, the Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary: Families and the elderly are approaching the dispensary for bread.

A member of the CNEWA Lebanon field staff writes:

I just came back from the field from Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary in Nabaa where I had a meeting with the staff to follow-up on the health project CNEWA has been supporting. I was shocked at the sight of elderly women and men as well as families approaching the center asking for bread. A staff member told me that they are witnessing a new phenomenon, one they have not seen before, even during the war. Many well-known workshops in the area of Nabaa-Bourj-Hammoud are closing down and laying off workers. It is forcing families—who were barely able to cover their living expenses—to seek bread.

Through its local church partner, the Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary, CNEWA for two years has supported the poor population of the area with food portions and medical aid; in 2018, 309 extremely poor families were provided with nourishment for five months.

The Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary (also known as “Dispensaire Intercommunautaire”) is run by the Assembly of Female Religious Congregations. It was originally founded in 1968 by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary to serve those in need in a variety of ways — socially, medically and culturally. The Assembly took charge of the dispensary in 1973 and has been running it since. The dispensary is located in Nabaa-Bourj Hammoud, known to be poor districts of East Beirut with mixed communities. The residents are predominantly Christians displaced from Mount Lebanon and other parts of the country during the civil war. There are also a large number of foreign workers (Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Sri-Lankan, Filipino, etc.) seeking shelter in cheap, small apartments. These areas are densely populated, characterized by rates of high illiteracy, delinquency, unemployment, drugs and prostitution.

Hanna Issa's wife receives bread at the dispensary. (photo: CNEWA)

One of the beneficiaries of CNEWA’s program has been Hanna Issa. He and his family have been supported with food and medical aid which helped them to overcome their dire economic condition. Hanna, 55, is married and has a 13-year-old daughter. He used to work in a shoe workshop in the area of Bourj Hammoud. Due to the difficult economic situation, the workshop went into bankruptcy and had to close down, laying off dozens of workers. Hanna tried hard, but in vain, to find a job to provide for his family. But through CNEWA, Hanna and others in similar circumstances were kept afloat and did not drown in despair.

Others have not been so fortunate. Deteriorating economic and social conditions in Lebanon have led to a shocking increase in the number of acts of self-immolation—most offered in protest against the crushing economic conditions.

It is a reminder to us of how circumstances have changed so suddenly for so many. Tragically, a growing number of Lebanese hunger for more than bread; they crave human dignity and hope. CNEWA is privileged to help in any way we can, thanks to the support and generosity of our donors.



Tags: Lebanon





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