TWO MINUTE READ: Update from Lebanon

We’re helping vulnerable families in the aftermath of Lebanon’s harsh winter storms. Jean and Isabelle from our partner Dorcas share an update from the heart of the action. 

“The weather might get worse, but you never know with the weather.” 
After a series of winter storms hit vulnerable families in Lebanon who were already struggling, Mary’s Meals teamed up with our partner Dorcas to provide essential food parcels to some of those most affected by the flooding and drop in temperatures. Here, they share an update from the country. 
The worst of the winter storms lasted about five days, there was a break and then two days later, the rains came again. Even if the weather doesn’t get worse again, the damage has already been done.  
We’re not sure how other people would understand it, as 10 degrees sounds pretty warm, but that’s if you have heating in your house! In Lebanon, even if it is 10C, for those living in the camps it is extremely cold, as there is no proper heating. What they had to protect themselves from the winter storms was not enough. The last few winters were abnormally mild so the storm arrived and people were not prepared.  
They are living in tented settlements and substandard, half-constructed buildings. These ‘houses’ were affected, some roofs were destroyed, the floors are totally wet, the carpets are soaked. The water is entering inside the house. People need to try and fix their homes, to replace the mattresses, blankets, clothing or shoes that got ruined. They need new stoves and fuel for heating and much more. As a result they have even less money than normal for food. In most cases, families accumulate debt to secure these basics. People who hadn’t much in the first place have now lost the little they possessed.  

People cannot work as there are no jobs, they don’t have any financial assistance and they lost many possessions during the storms and flooding. As the cold continued, the priority for parents was to provide shelter and warmth for their children. Food is important for them but it wasn’t prioritised because it was so cold. For them, it was so hard. It was a bad situation and people were affected very much, that’s why we asked Mary’s Meals if they could help; the people needed to eat.  
After conducting a needs assessment in the affected areas, we decided to distribute 1,000 food parcels to the families that suffered most due to the winter storms. The products in the box were selected to meet a family of five’s nutritional needs for one month. It contains things like rice, lentils, beans, oil, sugar, canned fish and flour. We hope that by providing this food, vulnerable families can rely on that and make sure any money they do have can be spent on making sure their children are safe and warm.  
The first food parcels were distributed at Bourji El Barajneh refugee camp on Tuesday 12 February. When you go to the camp and see how people are living there, you see the big need. It’s an overloaded camp and children and their families are facing many hardships. The food we provide is a big support for them. The food is basic but it is very good. It is not easy to visit the camp but it was so good to see the distribution of Mary’s Meals’ food parcels there and people were very happy.