By Joêlle El Dib & Soraya Naufal, Communication Department of Caritas Lebanon
“You ask about Easter?” says Ghada Chaymoun, a 42 year old Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. “We have lost the love of the holidays; we don’t feel anything anymore”.
“Man is made of feelings so when his feelings are hurt, he doesn’t feel anymore. You can only feel something good when you are happy inside. Life is very difficult for us here, financially and morally. Nothing is in our hands,” she says.
Ghada is grateful to Caritas Lebanon. Thanks to the Apostolic Nuncio and the president of Caritas Lebanon, her son Maroun is studying dentistry in Ladquieh in Syria.
And every time a member of her family is sick, they go to the Saint-Michel Medico-Social Centre of Caritas Lebanon, “where we are treated very well” she says.
“We thank the Lord for everything. We believe in the Resurrection and if did not, we could not keep on being strong. We pray and ask Jesus, who was crucified, for only one thing: peace. We ask God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary to free us from the hell we are living in.”
Ziad Atanis, 53, started losing his sight three months ago because of diabetes. Without Caritas, his health would have deteriorated further as he cannot afford to buy medicine.
When asked him about Easter, he says, “It is impossible to rejoice because I’m away from my hometown and my family. I live here just with my sister and my children. I’m in a very delicate situation. I pray God protects us and allows us to return to our home”.
He wishes Happy Easter to all his brothers and sisters at Caritas.
“I don’t want to cry,” said Pauline Adam, 57, as she talks about her feelings towards Easter, but she does.
“I have no family left, whether in Syria or in Lebanon; part of my family died and the rest married and left. I share my suffering with those of Jesus. I thank the Lord for the efficient assistance Caritas Lebanon offers me. Caritas is why I’m ok.”
“How do I feel towards Easter?” she says. “How could a person living alone celebrate? My celebration is purely spiritual. The holidays are, for me, my personal relation with the Lord and our Mother Mary, who are helping me in my daily life”.
Pauline fled from Syria with only her clothes on her back and is living now in the shelter of Caritas Lebanon Migrants Centre in Dahr El Souwan.
“Caritas is my family; I cannot live without the staff of Saint-Michel Medico Social Centre and the shelter. Without Caritas, who did so much for me, my life would be hell. I would be living on the street.”
She tells her testimony with the Virgin Mary, that she was miraculously cured since 1998 by the hands of the Immaculate Conception. She would be completely paralyzed.
She says, “Mary taught me to be patient and how to pray; I tell her ‘Mother Mary, come and pray with me’. Without her and Jesus, I would not be able to go on, because I lost all my close ones and I am single”.
Antoinette Elias, 55, is from Wadi el Nassara in Syria. She said, “I wish that, through Jesus’s Resurrection, that my country and my family recover. And with His death and glorious resurrection, may all countries, Lebanon, Syria and the Arab countries find peace.
“May the Christian people be safe because they have really suffered a lot. All their rights have vanished. We had enough, we are bleeding, and we walk in His suffering.
“I only celebrate with Jesus and Mary, not with people. I rejoice and grieve with Jesus about his crucifixion and resurrection. I rejoice and I grieve with the Virgin Mary.
“I will celebrate when Syria and its people are at peace. Everything is in Jesus’s hands. He’s the one who does everything, not us. Who believes in God does not fear.
Antoinette received medical treatment in Saint Michel Medical Social Centre of Caritas Lebanon for a serious illness.
“I pray and ask God to give the doctors and the employees of Caritas Lebanon health, happiness and success in everything they do, they really deserve it! I pray they live in Jesus’s salvation,” she said.