By Camille Melki
The country of Lebanon has one of the highest (if not the highest) COVID-19 per capital cases in the region. The same is true for the mortality rate. With increased numbers of cases and record-breaking positivity rate, the situation in Lebanon is alarming. This overwhelming health crises comes on the heels of a devastating economic downfall and the absence of a working government – Lebanon has been without a government for 7 months and has seen it currency lose 85% of its value. The healthcare system is crippled and is missing any serious nation-wide attempt to restore confidence that the country can, and will, overcome these difficulties. Our people are looking for local leaderships to rise up to the challenge and to offer initiatives to help lessen this dark sense of despair.
Heart for Lebanon has taken the challenge to help provide a message of hope and solidarity. A humble beginning in vaccinating our population started three weeks ago. Less than 1% have been vaccinated with the first shot – no one in Lebanon is fully vaccinated yet. Heart for Lebanon understands that this is a long journey and that help is needed for people to persevere and to keep vigilant till the day comes when we will overcome this pandemic. In order to do that, our ministry launched the “1,000,000 face masks campaign”. Our goal is to raise awareness, to provide essential tools to stay healthy, and to share a message of hope with those we are serving.
We are targeting 3 of the largest cities in the country: Beirut, Sidon, and Zahleh. Those cities combined, along with their surrounding small towns and villages, cover more than 40% of the population of Lebanon. Heart for Lebanon will distribute 24,000 packages in each city over the next 3 months. Each package has 10 face masks and 2 hand sanitizer gel bottles. A total of 72,000 packages will be handed out to people in the streets with a message of solidarity; encouraging folks to stay hopeful and careful.
I am confident that our efforts will also open the way for conversations to take place with people we encounter. I pray that those conversations will lead us to share a message of hope and encouragement. I am confident that a smile here, a short prayer there, and few encouraging words in between will go a long way with people in despair.
This health awareness campaign is in addition to all our efforts to support the refugee population as well as the local Lebanese families who were affected by the Port of Beirut explosion. For the next three months, each of the 2,800 families we are currently serving will receive as part of a food and non-food package, 100 disposable face masks and 5 family-size hand sanitizer bottles.
In my opinion, though the 1,000,000 face masks campaign is a huge undertaking on our part, it still is a humble attempt to help if measured to the overwhelming needs around us. The numbers of packages distributed is not our ultimate goal. Instead, what we crave for is an invitation to stand alongside those suffering the most and share with them a loving and caring message of hope; the hope we find in Christ alone.
I invite you to pray with us that things will go smoothly; that we will find favor in the eyes of the local authorities. Pray that people will receive those gifts with joy and that we take every opportunity to show them Christ’s love, a love they long for.
Pray that we continue to lead people from despair to hope.
This post was originally published on Heart for Lebanon.