The Syriac Orthodox Church’s families in Beirut have also been victims of this sorrowful tragedy that paralyzed their hearts and shook the whole world. How did the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Beirut respond to this disaster? How did it support the affected people?
The team of the MECC Communication and Public Relations Department contacted Fr. Charbel Bahi, a member of the Ecumenical Committee for the relief of Beirut – which was created by MECC – representing the Syriac Orthodox Church and designated by His Excellency Daniel Kourieh, the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut, to shed the light on the severe damages and losses by the Syriac families, to identify their urgent needs and to find ways to help.
In a troubled state, Fr. Charbel Bahi described the first moments of terror and panic that he went through after the blast, like the other Lebanese people, and told us that they all fell under the trauma passing through difficult and sad times. Father Bahi added that, in a first step, he sent messages, to all the believers in his parish in Musaytbeh region and to the Syriac Orthodox families in Achrafieh, after being asked by Bishop Daniel Kourieh. So he checked up on them and on their loved ones, to inspect their losses and extend a helping hand. He also called on every person who can help and visit the affected families and support them, according to the circumstances they faced.
Fr. Charbel continued by informing us that he accompanied His Excellency Bishop Kourieh in a field tour, three days after the disaster, and visited the houses of all the parish’s families to inspect the damages they faced and the losses. In addition, they promised that they will always help them, as the Church embraces them and will never leave them. Father Bahi added that affected families are also facing the difficult repercussions of the Port blast and the worsening economic crisis, noting that the needs are becoming dire at all levels and for all the Lebanese.
With a great hope, Fr. Bahi described the disaster relief operation the Archdiocese is doing in the wounded Beirut. They were able to provide financial aid, reaching approximately the amount of $ 3,000, as compensation to the families whose houses have been severely damaged. Medically, they paid the fees of the surgical operations the injured people underwent, as a result of the blast, especially that the prices of the hospitals’ services are constantly increasing. Moreover, the diocese continues to support about 110 families since the occurrence of the tragedy by providing monthly food rations, and even amounts of money that enable them to purchase their basic daily needs. Hence, Bahi praised the initiatives of the Syriac charitable organizations, the eparchies of the Syriac Church and the generous people in Europe who decided to rescue their suffering brothers in Beirut. Hadn’t it been for these aid, the Archdiocese could not be able to continue its relief operation.
In this context, Fr. Charbel Bahi praised the cooperation with the Middle East Council of Churches, through the Ecumenical Committee for the relief of Beirut, and expressed his hope for this common humanitarian work among all churches; thanking the council for its continuous efforts in providing relief to the Lebanese people in general and to the Christians in particular, through providing various types of aid. Thus, he said: “we thank our Lord for you and for all your efforts, as you are working to unite the churches and to provide aid to everyone without any distinction”, adding “you are standing beside us during this difficult crisis, and we urgently need to be united as Christians working together and showing Christianity through our deeds”.
Amidst these difficult and tragic living conditions that the Lebanese are going through, cooperation and mutual support remain essential indicators in facing the repercussions of the 4th of August disaster. Essentials needs are increasing day by day, and the citizens are exhausted unable to secure the necessities of daily life, and even to rehabilitate their homes, most of which are not eligible for safe accommodation. Therefore, donation campaigns are still ongoing locally and internationally to rescue the struggling Lebanese people, “O God, who will roll away the stone from the heart of the wounded Beirut and its affected citizens” (From the MECC Beirut Appeal in response to the Port explosion).
Report by: Elia Nasrallah