“Lebanon is overwhelmed by an unprecedented crisis”, “Lebanon is experiencing a political and institutional drama on the verge of collapse”, “Lebanon is in a situation of poverty with no escape”… How many times have similar phrases caught the eye, while appearing here and there in the newspapers or on the pages of sites that, like ours, try to make known the dramatic everyday life that the Land of the Cedars has been experiencing for two years now?
Pro Terra Sancta has opened a “psycho-social” support center in the country, inviting children and the elderly to rediscover the possibility of concrete hope. Here are some news of the events held on Christmas days.
The crisis in Lebanon
And one cannot, in fact, think too differently: the crisis in Lebanon is truly unprecedented, in terms of gravity.
A political and social crisis, first of all. Since the last months of 2019, more than two years ago, the country has split, and political institutions have begun to be discredited in the eyes of public opinion. The population took to the streets, and began to shout at the corruption of the country’s political class, causing the collapse of the Hariri government in October 2019.
The Crisis in Lebanon, however, was only in its infancy. After the Hariri government, it was the turn of Hassan Diab, called to alleviate the suffering of a country that denounced an increasingly pronounced difficult situation. It is precisely during the government of Diab that, on August 4, 2020, the explosion of the port of Beirut, the Lebanese capital, took place.
The definitive collapse of the government, following the conflagration, has thrown the Land of the Cedars into social and institutional chaos. For more than a year, Lebanon has been without a government, seeing the situation deteriorate more and more every day. Only in September 2021 Najib Miqati managed to take office as Prime Minister, but without being able to prevent the harshest effects of the crisis.
The crisis in Lebanon today
“Today in Lebanon there is no gasoline, there is no gas, there are no medicines,” Fadi Bejani,our collaborator at the Beirut office, told us only a few months ago. And indeed the situation seems desperate.
It is estimated that 10% of the population has left the country in the last two years; 80%, unicef reports, live on less than $1.5 a day, the youth unemployment rate is above 60%. A dramatic exodus, a hemorrhage for a country in disarray, which needs to remain attached to hope, to still believe that a different tomorrow exists and can be realized.
It is to keep this certainty alive in a different tomorrow that Pro Terra Sancta has opened the Franciscan Care Center (FCC) in Beirut, a reality, as Fadi calls it, “of psycho-social assistance”. Children and the elderly are welcomed in the center in need of help, support or simply a presence at their side, to try to show, and to make them feel, that a different possibility exists.
Before Christmas, the FCC Beirut held two events that were particularly welcome for its clients. The little ones were able to participate in a clowning show: balloons, red noses, jokes, games and magic. To let themselves be regained again by the joy of a childhood that many, too many times seems lost, crushed as it is in the gear of a devastation too great.
For adults, two moments of ‘sociality’ were held in the FCC center starting from art-therapy paths, that is, psychological support through art. Color, drawing, artistic elaboration are powerful means of expression that can help to regain a trust that was believed to be lost, and that help to walk, thinning fear, cushioning anguish. The older people in need were invited to the FCC and, with simplicity, they were given the opportunity to participate in artistic workshops, guaranteeing at the same time an opportunity for creativity and sociality.
At the heart of the crisis in Lebanon, a light remains on. It is that of the colors of the FCC, similar to the stars that dot the night: they are sparse, of course, and do not illuminate the darkness; but without those, orienting oneself is impossible.