“Brother, if you have no money, do not be ashamed and do not leave your family without food. Please come in and take what you need: coffee, spices, cereals because God cares about you and me.” This message (see photo), exhibited by Mr. Abd Bitari in the shop window of his grocery store in Nabatieh, in southern Lebanon (area with a Shiite majority), has become the symbol of the spirit of resilience of the Lebanese population in front of the political-economic emergency that is devastating the country, expressed in innumerable spontaneous initiatives of concrete solidarity for the benefit of those who suffer most from the effects of the crisis according to Fides News Agency.
What also contributes to the wave of spontaneous solidarity initiatives was the emotion aroused throughout the country by the case of a family man from the city of Arsal, with his wife suffering from cancer, who took his own life after falling into debt and was not able to put together a thousand Lebanese pounds (equal to 50 euro cents today) that his daughter had asked him before going to school.
The resilience of the Lebanese is expressed in different ways. There are those who offer methane for heating, those who have no money to buy it, doctors and lawyers guarantee free assistance to those who need it most, food banks and pharmaceutical companies that collect food and medicine to redistribute them to families in desperate need.
The parish of St. John the Baptist in Beirut has inaugurated, near a hospital, a “mobile refrigerator”. The economic emergency also conditions and characterizes the initiatives of the parishes and Christian schools that are preparing to celebrate the feast of Christmas. In the parish of San Maroun in Haret Sakher, near Harissa, the youth of the parish collect food and medicines to help families in difficulty. The pastoral council has taken the decision to reduce the expenses for Christmas celebrations and to allocate everything to help those most in need. A special committee was set up to coordinate the parish’s charity interventions.
The weeks of demonstrations and roadblocks have caused the closure of many schools for long weeks, increasing the crisis factors of many educational institutes promoted by the Churches. To recover the class hours, schools will remain open also on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, the Notre-Dame de Jamhour College, led by Father Charbel Batour, issued a statement to suggest everyone to allocate the resources traditionally destined to buy gifts for Christmas to charitable works.