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Sunday, August 15, 2021

Lebanon is broke and starving

The Future for Lebanese Youth is Grim

by Susan Fox 

The water from the faucet is undrinkable. 

At least two people in every Lebanese family has cancer. 

The unemployment rate has been driven up to 45 percent since the start of the October 2019 revolution, forcing 60 percent of the Lebanese into poverty in 2021.

The average  monthly salary for a person in Lebanon reached  $50, but 90 percent of it goes to the government to pay for undrinkable water, electrical black outs, and a personal  generator. The rest must go for food, rent and medicine, but food prices have risen 500 percent in two years.

If you had money in the bank two years ago. Maybe you saved the equivalent of $3,000. Now it’s worth $300 and the bank won’t let you make a withdrawal until its value falls even further. There is literally no way to get food in Lebanon unless you have a cousin out of the country who will mail you dollars.  Fresh Dollars from the U.S. are the only way to survive in Lebanon.  

Lebanon is utterly broke and starving. The number of Lebanese living in poverty has risen from 28 percent of the population in 2019 to more than 60 percent in 2021. And it is forecast to rise to 75 percent. 

Yes, Lebanon  is regarded as a rich country. Yet 10 percent of Lebanon’s adults hold 70 percent of its personal wealth. And they are letting the trash accumulate on the beach, the chemical factories dump into the drinking water, and the fancy hotels on the beach dump their sewerage in the Mediterranean Sea, killing the fishing industry. Some incredibly selfish person used the Lebanese farmers to transport drugs into Saudi Arabia, hiding the drugs in the pomegranates. Now Saudi Arabia won’t buy its produce from Lebanon. The Lebanese farms produce better produce than California, and it will rot. The people can’t afford it. Their currency is worthless.The farmers have no market.

Remember the story in the Bible of the rich man who lived in luxury? At his door lay a beggar named Lazarus, who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. That’s the story of Lebanon.  

Let me introduce you to Lazarus in Lebanon. His name is Anthony Nasrani, a Maronite Catholic, handsome and faith filled. “There is no salvation outside Jesus Christ. I am saying this to all the people we help. Jesus Christ is the only one who can save you. I feel His presence in my heart.” the 20-year-old said. He is a volunteer for the MissionofHopeandMercy.org in Lebanon. He distributes food, rental money and medicine to those who ask for help. They are Syrian and Iraqi refugees and Lebanese Christians. He even extends the hand of mercy to Muslims. The Mission supports almost 5000 Lebanese families. For all his efforts he is fed, but not paid. Mission of Hope and Mercy runs on volunteers. Every cent  donated goes to the poor.

During the interview, the electricity shut down. This is typical. Beside Anthony is Khaled Bouyounes, who also volunteers to help the Mission. He runs a car rental agency, but he hasn’t made money in two years. Once a year for Ramadan, he rents some cars, but that is the totality of his business. Other Lebanese NGOs wear fancy jewellery and fine clothes. When Anthony and Khaled visit with dignitaries in the Church, the priests always remark how little they have. Khaled doesn’t have a car and must get a ride with Anthony.

Beirut waterfront explosion Aug., 4, 2020
They went to Khaled’s rental car business in a big building containing a hotel  so they could be interviewed over Zoom on a cell phone. The hotel has a back up generator, so the lights come back on. Khaled’s rental car headquarters was destroyed in the Beirut waterfront explosion on Aug. 4, 2020. Anthony estimates that about 40 percent of the people are still homeless and Khaled said the insurance companies did not pay people for the loss of their homes or their businesses. They still don’t know what caused the fire that started the explosion.


But there is a greater problem in Lebanon, according to Anthony, “Lebanese youth are not supposed to think only of food and drink. Where are their dreams? I want to help Lebanon, but first I want to grow myself too.” He wants an education. It’s the same for all the Lebanese children, who are sitting at home now twiddling their thumbs unable to pay for school.

Another war on Lebanon’s southern border is brewing. Lebanese Hezbollah is shooting rockets at Israel, who is returning fire. Anthony is asking us to us to pray for Christians in the Middle East. “They want us to hate Lebanon. They want us to give up on Jesus Christ. They want us always to be tired and sad,” Anthony said, “But this (Mission of Hope and Mercy) is the work of the Holy Spirit. God is working. He is dominating this place.”