Plummeting temperatures in Lebanon throughout January and February created freezing conditions for Syrian refugee families surviving in canvas shelters at a time when fuel is completely unaffordable. They have been in desperate need of help to heat their homes.
Thanks to an appeal this winter, our supporters have helped provide fuel vouchers for 319 families, so they can stay warm.
Sub zero winters are common in Lebanon, but this year, heavy rain and plummeting temperatures created freezing, harsh conditions for refugee families who are surviving in flooded shelters in the Bekaa Valley, unable to afford fuel to heat their homes. Lebanon saw the worst snowfall for seven years.
Lebanon has been grappling with an economic crisis that has sunk almost all the country’s refugee population into extreme poverty, along with a huge proportion of the Lebanese poor, who are also struggling to survive the winter.
Compounded by COVID-19, political unrest and the 2020 Beirut port explosion, the country’s economic meltdown has caused the currency to collapse and sent the price of food, fuel and other essentials soaring.
Bethany Lanier, Project Officer in Lebanon said:
“The homes are cold. The camps are cold. The air is cold. We are so thankful to have heat at the school so that the students can be comfortable and focus on their studies, but dealing with the cold in the camps is hard. With the economy in such a mess, the price of diesel has increased to a point where heating homes is very difficult”.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, in February, we were able to raise enough funds to provide fuel vouchers for 319 Lebanese and Syrian families. Vouchers were valid at local petrol stations for families to fill up with fuel to use to heat their homes.
Our partners in Lebanon reacted quickly and went to the camps in the Bekaa Valley to distribute these fuel vouchers to the most hard pressed households of children and teachers that attend the school we support in Zahle. They encountered very miserable situations of families trying to survive in the freezing cold. One teacher and her husband had to work all night on the roof of their tent shovelling snow to keep the roof from collapsing under the weight of it. Another teacher, a mother of five with newborn twins had her tent collapse on her entire family. They had to hurry to get the children and babies out and then propped up the tent with a plank of wood for reinforcement.
Nuna, from our partner organisation in Lebanon said that that people were overjoyed and ecstatic to receive the fuel vouchers. One teacher told us that the fuel vouchers were provided the same day she ran out of fuel and did not know how she was going to be able to buy more, so the timing was perfect.
Nuna and her team made further visits and assessed more homes, including struggling Lebanese families, who we were also able to support.
Thankfully the weather has warmed up in Lebanon and the snow has mostly melted, but it has left damaged tents, and roads full of water and mud in its wake.
OUR WORK IN LEBANON
We work with Lebanese NGO, Triumphant Mercy to provide education for nearly 300 Syrian refugee children living in informal refugee settlements of Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.
The school we support in Zahle offers safe, fun classrooms with a large play space outside. Children are brought in by bus along with their teachers from the refugee camps to learn in a child friendly environment.
They are taught by Syrian refugee teachers in their own dialect, who are trained to deliver a bespoke Syrian and Lebanese curriculum. Staff use Montessori techniques to help children learn Arabic, maths, science, history, geography and English.
The school also offers additional vocational training, so children can learn to dance, sew and take carpentry or computer classes. Teachers offer trauma care, to help children recover from what they have been through. The children benefit from an environment of warmth and safety, where they can thrive. Together, children are being well prepared for the future, whether this is a return to Syria or a protracted stay in Lebanon.