Young volunteers crucial to Caritas aid after Beirut explosions
After the 4th August explosions in Beirut’s port area, Caritas Lebanon’s help was crucial to support the population in a country wracked by devastating economic and political crises and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caritas helped more than 200,000 people, distributing 158,000 meals and providing medical care and medicines to more than 38,500 people in the first five months following the explosions.
Furthermore, a growing number of Lebanese are still depending on assistance from Caritas’s 80-plus help centres across the country. The explosions made half of Beirut’s hospitals non-functional and fees for Lebanon’s highly privatised health system are beyond the reach of many.
Photo by Caritas Lebanon Youth
The work of Caritas Lebanon in the country is vital now more than ever, as is the contribution of the 1,000 volunteers working in the Caritas Lebanon Youth Emergency Response Unit.
“As Pope Francis said, we young people represent the future, but also the present,” tells Caritas Internationalis Peter Mahfouz, head of Caritas Lebanon Youth Department.
“We cannot stand by while our people suffer. We have the power to change things and the energy that can support and help our communities and therefore, we have a duty to act and it is our responsibility to make the changes that we want to see. As Caritas Lebanon Youth, we come together as one big family in the name of solidarity.”
In the weeks following the explosions, many new young volunteers have joined the ranks of the Youth Emergency Response Unit. Caritas young volunteers were often doing back to back shifts, going out on the streets to help people day and night with boundless energy and good humour. They served hot meals, distributed medicines and helped people to clean their houses after the blast.
“Caritas Lebanon Youth adopts volunteering and teamwork principles based on the social teaching of the Church,” says Mahfouz. “Our young volunteers are driven by an enthusiasm to serve the most in need and build societies guided by justice.”
Caritas Lebanon Youth was on hand to help technical teams provide materials and support to people in rebuilding their houses. They helped renovate seven hundred houses in the first five months after the disaster and efforts are ongoing to rebuild Lebanon.
The economic and political crisis, plus the pandemic, plus the disaster last summer are all having a massive impact on the young people of Lebanon, whose future is increasingly uncertain. But they are not losing hope for a future in their own country.
“I hope that one day we will be able to just live a normal life and to have a future where our youth don’t have to leave Lebanon in search of jobs and a future,” says Mahfouz.
Help the people of Lebanon get back on their feet after back to back crises