2020 Lent Collection: Diaconia Helping Abroad

12.Postní sbírkaSamer is ten years old. He and his family fled the Syrian war and ran to Lebanon. Like many other Syrians, they found refuge in a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Beirut.

Samer’s father, Ahman, suffered a war trauma that developed into epilepsy. He’s been trying to work, but was unable to manage every day, which meant the family of five would often run short of money for rent and food. To help the family cope, Samer started working in a barber’s shop. He would make approximately two Dollars per morning. The small contribution into the family budget was a high price to pay for the fact that a ten-year old boy could not attend school.

Samer’s mother contacted Tahaddi, a community centre she learned about from the women in the neighbourhood. Tahaddi runs a school and they had a place for Samer. However, the boy’s renewed school attendance meant a hole in the family budget.

Yet the centre is ready for such situations. Samer is not the only child coming from a refugee family and facing the choice between making money and getting an education. His family received meal tickets and a contribution for buying a washing machine and a small heater. All of this was possible thanks to the aid provided by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaconia, which acts as the Ministry’s mediator for distributing the aid in Lebanon.

Hope for the future

The change has definitely done Samer good. He likes his classmates, he is very excited about all the school trips and the variety of the school programme. He is planning to become a P.E. teacher one day, but he is a good student in all the other subjects as well. Samer’s two sisters have also started to get some education. The older one attends a reading and writing course, the younger one is currently home-schooled with the help of the teachers from Tahaddi. The systematic help from Tahaddi and from the Czech Republic has brought a significant relief to the family. Thanks to the meal tickets, they no longer have to worry about whether they will have enough food to get through another day. Their future is now much brighter.

However, the overall situation in Lebanon is still very complicated. A country that is the size of a slightly larger Liberec-region now hosts over 1.5 million refugees, mostly from Syria, and the government is not administering the country well.  Most Lebanese believe that the terrible economic situation is caused by corruption. This led to mass civic protests all over the country last autumn. One of the unintended results was the breakdown of the local banking system, which now poses a risk not only to freelancers, but also to organisations helping families like that of Samer.

For the little ones

This is why Diaconia has decided to donate the proceeds of this year’s Lent Collection to another programme run by the Tahaddi community centre – a pre-school education centre. The community kindergarten is attended not only by children of refugees, but also of poor Lebanese. The kids can play in safety, acquire the basic habits of hygiene and a healthy diet. They will learn colours, animals, letters and numbers. All of these are prerequisites for later being able to attend a normal state school – getting an education is always of fundamental importance in life. The kindergarten is also attended by children with special needs.

If the Lent Collection proves as successful as it has been in the past few years, funds will cover the wages of the kindergarten’s staff for one year, which is an enormous support for an organisation like Tahaddi.

Adam Šůra