Shortage of food is a major emerging problem in Lebanon. In the past year, prices for food have increased considerably due to the bad economic situation. In addition, many people lost their source of income after the explosion in August. Food distribution is therefore an important focus of the Joint Response.
5 days a week, the employees of Dorcas’ local partner MSD prepare around 200 ready-to-eat hot meals. The fresh meals are well received, according to MSD employee Rony. Dorcas also distributes food parcels. Due to the financial situation in Lebanon there is a great need for this. Many residents hardly have enough money to purchase the common basic necessities such as food and hygiene products.
Michel is one of the people who daily collects a meal package for his father, mother and a brother, who is physically limited. Michel himself lives a bit further away, with his wife and 2 children. His family lives in a small house on the 4th floor. “Fortunately, I was here during the explosion,” Michel responds. “I thought the building was going to collapse. I ran outside with my mother in my arms. “The house was slightly damaged.
Daily meals are crucial for Michel’s family. “I am very grateful for the hot meals. It’s a small support that makes a big difference. Financially, everything has become much more expensive in recent months, “says Michel. His parents and brother are not receiving medical attention. They also have no insurance. He’s worried about his parents. “The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing before going to sleep is call my parents.”
Not only meals are needed in Beirut. World Vision is committed to the distribution of hygiene kits, disinfectants and water storage tanks within this project. Lorice and her father received both food packages and hygiene kits. They were both at home when the explosion happened. The windows were broken, the door was damaged. But the explosion’s biggest impact is mental, Lorice says. She is doing well under the circumstances, but she is a bit depressed. The atmosphere in the house has changed. “Normally we communicate with each other in a calm tone. Now everyone is stressed. There is a lot of anger and fear. When the door closes with a bang, we panic. “
She is pleased with the presence of the aid organisations in Beirut. “They met all the needs we had as a family after the explosion.” The windows have since been repaired. Fortunately, says Lorice, because they couldn’t pay for the repairs themselves. She is also happy with the hygiene kit she recently received. It contained soap, cleaning products, detergent, shampoo and – very important given the increase in the number of COVID-19 infections – disinfectant.
A major obstacle to the work of the Joint Response is the COVID-19 virus. Sometimes they go into lockdown and work is forced to stop or is considerably delayed. After the explosion, the number of infections in Beirut increased significantly. Intensive care departments in the city are full. All organisations are therefore focused on preventing more dissemination due to the work being carried out. Information is an important part. This makes communities aware of the importance of physical distance and personal protective measures, such as washing hands and wearing mouth masks.
Children are a special target group. Not only are they traumatized, says Safa of DAA, World Vision’s local partner. They also have to deal with changes due to COVID-19. For example, the schools closed during the lockdown in Lebanon. In addition to handing out food and hygiene kits, World Vision also ensures that vulnerable children can follow lessons from home, that school materials are provided and that a laptop is made available.
In addition, a total of 300 children and 180 mothers attend meetings in the DAA activity centre. The activities focus on water and hygiene as well as psychological first aid for children and families affected by the explosion. If DAA notices that children need extra (psychological) help, they refer them to World Vision or other aid organisations.
This article is part of a trilogy about the Joint Response project in Beirut. This article focuses on Dorcas and World Vision, with their partners MSD and DAA, and highlights part of their work. This article is focussed on Protection and Multi-Purpose Cash assistance.