Lebanon (MNN) — Lebanon faces the coronavirus with a weakened economy and vulnerable refugee population, while the Church seeks to image Christ to the country.
Wissam Nasrallah of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) says, “One of the good things our government has done is imposed a lockdown early enough in the in the virus outbreak. So, it has been relatively contained.”
Indeed, Lebanon now has just over 600 cases, very low compared to many other countries. But Wissam says, “The fear is if the virus spreads and the health care system is overwhelmed, we would probably witness a similar scenario as in Italy or other places.”
While the refugee camps have so far avoided a serious outbreak, Nasrallah says the consequences could be catastrophic. “The main, basic things to do with a virus [are] wash your hands, have really good hygiene, and exercise social distancing. Both of which are not possible in refugee camps where families have eight or nine live in one room. And a lot of them don’t have running water and access to proper hygiene.”
Any sort of large outbreak would overwhelm Lebanon’s healthcare system, let alone one in the refugee camps.
SKILD and MERATH
LSESD also provides therapy for children with learning disabilities through their SKILD program. Nasrallah says LSESD has to close the program. “We’re afraid a lot of these kids will regress and we will lose a lot of a lot of the gains that we were able to achieve in previous months.”
In response, SKILD will organize a conference promoting, “inclusion in times of distancing,” corresponding with the National Day for Students with Learning Difficulties on April 22nd. Nasrallah says, “Our commitment to students with learning difficulties is strengthened as they particularly face one of their greatest challenges by being homebound during a nationwide lockdown.” The conference will take place under the patronage of the Ministry of Education and in partnership with the British Council.
Meanwhile, Middle East Revive and Thrive (MERATH) has begun distributing 4,400 hygiene kits to poor and refugee families. These packs include: 12 bars of soap, 2 bottles of hand sanitizers and two packs of tissues. Read more here.
The global church
Pray that the virus would be contained in Lebanon and that the country would not see the same kind of huge outbreak many other countries have experienced.
Nasrallah says Christians around the world are facing the same kinds of lockdowns and restriction. He encourages Christians to pray for each other, “As the global Church family, as a global Body of Christ. This is a very important time for all of us to come together and pray for one another. But also to pray for our governments and authorities so that they may take the right decisions and [take] the necessary precautions.”
Nasrallah encourages Christians everywhere to model good citizenship by loving our neighbors well, even through social distancing.
“May God give us the wisdom to think, ‘How can this be the time of the church? How can this crisis be the time where the church is able to serve the community, to be present, to spread a message of hope to the community that is around us?’”
Refugee camp in Lebanon. (Header photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)