The month of August 2020 in Lebanon was nothing like other months that Lebanese people have ever lived. Since the 4th of August 2020, Beirut was turned into a devastated city and dreams were buried under rubble and ashes. The young capital bid farewell to its young heroes, some through tragic funerals and others in the gloomy airport hall. The month of August has now ended, on the sound of mothers’ tears; mothers whose hearts were shattered as their children left them.
However, in every ending there is a new beginning. Amidst all these painful events, hope remains the only source of strength for many young people who chose to remain in their homeland, among their suffering families and brethren. Beirut today draws strength and hope from every young man and woman, in order to stand tall again.
The youth of Lebanon fulfilled their patriotic duty and hastened to provide relief to Beirut and wake the city up from its coma. In this difficult time, they rushed to join and collaborate with non-governmental organizations and youth groups. Shortly after the explosion, the streets were filled with volunteers who came to the rescue of their beloved Beirut to remove the rubble and debris of glass and wood … They dedicated their time to support those affected morally and financially by the catastrophe, through appeals and campaigns aiming at collecting donations. Among these groups are Christian youth movements that pursue their voluntary initiatives and activities.
In fact, at the invitation of the Youth Pastoral Office in the Maronite Patriarchate Circle and as part of the “We Are All Beirut” initiative, the youth of the dioceses and the pastoral and scout movements in the Maronite Church participated in volunteer work such as cleaning the rubble, contributing to the construction works, and providing medical care, through collaborating with Caritas and the Youth Pastoral Movement in the Archdiocese of Beirut. Moreover, the Youth Pastoral Office along with the Youth Hope Association and in partnership with Notre Dame University who had launched an initiative entitled “Bridging Hearts”, organized a campaign to collect in kind-contributions to support Beirutis, adopting the slogan “Through our solidarity, we witness to the hope that lies in our hearts.” Moreover, in response to the call of His Beatitude Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, the youth of the Maronite Church united in fasting and prayer in the intention of all the victims of the explosion, on Saturday 8 August 2020.
In their turn, members of the Fraternities of the Youth of Virgin Mary in Lebanon volunteered to carry out various relief activities in affected areas, as they consider that each one of them contributes in its own way to achieving change. In fact, they sing the following words in one of their chants, “It is not enough to only care and ask, believe that you play a main role”.
For its part, the Orthodox Youth Movement (MJO) launched a fundraising campaign through a list of bank accounts opened to receive internal and external transfers. The Social Emergency Committee in the Movement’s General Secretariat continues its relief activities in cooperation with the Beirut Medical and Social Center and the members of the Movement. Thus, volunteers from all the centers of the Orthodox Youth Movement participated in the cleaning and transporting of glass for recycling, as well as in the restoration, maintenance and repair of damages in several homes, in terms of aluminum, glass and wood. The youth visited families in need to provide them with material, moral and medical support. Plus, the Emergency Committee was able to provide families who had lost their homes with several temporary housing centers. In addition, the MJO Beirut Center, in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the MJO dispensary in Beirut, organized psychological support sessions to help citizens deal with the trauma and stress.
Moreover, the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) built an ecumenical youth platform as it is keen to ensure the participation of young people in the initiatives it has launched to face the repercussions of the Beirut Port explosion. Therefore, and as the Council believes that youth play an effective role in their societies, the Theological and Ecumenical Department (TED) held two online meetings, on August 25 and 26, 2020, during which young men and women representing their churches, discussed their concerns and aspirations, and suggested solutions for dealing with this disaster that devastated Beirut. Noting that these meetings will continue in order to reach the desired goals.
A month after the Beirut port explosion, it is clear how youth organizations and associations dedicated their time for field work, through which young people were able to complete the first stages of the relief process. However, the damage is great and displaced families are many… Through their hope and their pioneering role on the ground, the youth pledged that their ultimate goal is to restore life in the icon of the East, Beirut. Thus, let’s all stay in our country and hold on to our land while standing together during these exceptional times, as no matter how hard these times may be, the “light will shine out of darkness” (2 Corinthians 4:6).