Proceeds from the Diaconal Lent Collection enabled very rapid relief after the tragic and devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. The explosion killed more than 220 people and left 6,000 injured. It left about 300,000 people without a roof over their head.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, August 4, an ammonium nitrate port depot exploded in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The port, which is a key place in the country’s economy and supply, has been completely destroyed. For example, the silo contained 85% of Lebanon’s wheat reserves. Four Beirut hospitals, which were helping manage the onslaught of the covid-19 pandemic, were also put out of commission.
At the same time, Lebanon has been facing a deep economic crisis for a long time. Pandemics and explosions have now exacerbated it and escalated it hugely.
ECCB Diakonie sent immediate aid in the amount of 800 thousand crowns and at the same time opened a public fundraiser. It is dedicated not only to dealing with the immediate consequences, but also to longer-term support for the people of Beirut. Diaconia supportive projects have been taking place in Lebanon for several years, including care for vulnerable Beirut families. They help them cope with the dire consequences of poverty and help those who have fled the war in Syria.
The local knowledge and long-term operation of Diakonia in Beirut then helped to distribute resources really quickly and efficiently. Just under half the money (340 thousand CZK) will help the poorest families in the most affected district of Karantina.
The Beirut Tahaddi Training Centre, which has been cooperating with Diakonia for a long time, will also join in dealing with the consequences. Young people will help with the cleaning up after the explosion, and graduates trained in the fields of carpentry, plumbing and painting will also help with the restoration. Other young people will prepare and deliver food for families, workers and volunteers.
The second part of the money, CZK 220,000, will be used to purchase basic teaching aids for children from the poorest families. Due to the sharp increase in covid-19 cases in recent weeks, schools are expected to remain closed and only online lessons will be available for children.
School, combined with small but regular food or financial assistance, serves in many cases as the main prevention of child labour, early marriage of girls or other negative phenomena. It helps to prevent children from becoming stuck in the long run in a never-ending loop of poverty; and it provides the immediate feeling and benefits of simply being a child.
The third part, in the amount of CZK 240,000, has been donated by Diakonie to support teaching and other children’s activities as needed for psychosocial assistance.
The ECCB Diaconate in Lebanon, in cooperation with local organizations, supports the operation of school, kindergarten, a medical centre, and provides material and psychosocial assistance to the poorest, who would not otherwise have access to these basic services. The Tahaddi Community Centre offers material assistance as well as a long-term work for change, although at present it is primarily a matter of immediate survival. It employs two dozen women in a social enterprise tailoring company and provides quality education and leisure activities to 450 children who would not otherwise have a chance to go to school at all.