In many ways, the needs of refugees in Beirut have moved from the category of relief to development. Now that’s not to say that there are not refugees who are hungry or in desperate need of shelter, because there certainly are. But I’ve noticed a subtle shift in many organizations from providing food and clothing to looking for more long term ways to help refugees do more than just barely survive. Our church, for example, is offering English classes, which is especially desirable for those hoping to emigrate to the West.
For months and even years, many refugees have been living on handouts from the UN, churches and other charitable organizations. But this is neither sustainable nor best practice for the long term. The old saying about giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish is the perfect analogy for the needs of many refugees that I know. They don’t want or need handouts as much as they need an opportunity and the skills to work in order to provide for themselves and their families.
(picture from fajr beirut’s facebook page)
Some friends of mine run a small house in a neighborhood where many refugees come to beg. They’ve opened their doors to these women and are trying to offer them another way, a way that restores dignity and puts the power to provide and care for their families back into their hands. The women have learned how to make notebooks and are selling them as a way to support themselves.
The notebooks are cute, nicely made and a simple way that you can be involved in getting a family off the streets. They come in 2 sizes and can be purchased at Zenjabeel Coffee Forum in Hamra or from the Fajr Beirut Facebook page.