Last week, the Chargée D’affaires of the Netherlands Embassy in Lebanon, Frederique de Man, paid a visit to our community centre in Beirut where she praised Dorcas’ emergency response to the 4 August port blasts. Our Country Director for Lebanon, Najla Chahda, gave a warm welcome to the Ambassador who was shown around the centre – a modest facility in the Achrafieh district launched in partnership with Migration Services and Development (MSD) and Daughters of Charity in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. The centre quickly became a source of refuge for thousands of people across the capital made homeless or otherwise traumatised by the deadly explosions.
During her tour, de Man – accompanied by two Embassy members – observed a range of Dorcas activities including the distribution of food parcels and hygiene kits and a kitchen service where families wait in line to collect a hot meal. All activities are targeted at Karm el Zaytoun – one of the worst affected regions and an area long plagued by poor health and living standards. The Ambassador recalled being impressed by the friendly ambiance that greeted her at the centre. Our site manager made sure to explain anything that caught her attention.
The Ambassadors’ visit came as a much-needed reminder of all the hard work that the team has undertaken since one of the world’s largest accidental explosions on record rocked the capital. De Man was particularly impressed by the local ladies operating the kitchen – to whom she expressed her deep admiration. She also voiced concern over the imminent end of the initiative – a project which she believes is vital to the continued health and wellbeing of all those affected by the tragedy particularly the elderly and people with a disability. MSD’s Managing Director, Wissam Tannous, assured the Netherlands Chargée D’affaires that both MSD and Dorcas are doing their utmost to extend the project due to the dire needs of the Lebanese population.
An idea to help the women who prepare the meals start up a small business was well received during the day’s proceedings. The aim of this initiative would be to provide women across Lebanon with a stable source of income as well as ensure that vulnerable citizens are able to get a hot meal for an affordable price – with the possibility of home delivery also discussed.
De Man also got to watch a psychosocial support session in action. Thousands of children have been left at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety following the August explosions. Led by a Dorcas facilitator, the session touched on themes such as dealing with anger, stress and leaning on peers for support and the children were asked to express their emotions through drawings. The children were excited to share their creations with the Ambassador who was visibly moved by their enthusiasm. The morning was concluded with a delicious home cooked lunch prepared by the team.
Later, de Man paid a short visit to Bourj Hammoud, a town located north-east of the capital and part of Greater Beirut where Dorcas is conducting an extensive repair operation – restoring apartments and shops to their former glory. On behalf of the Dorcas team we would like to take this opportunity to thank her Excellency and the Dutch Embassy for their support.
The visit was held to coincide with the annual 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign. The campaign – an international call to action to end the destructive impact of GBV in our communities – is of great importance to Dorcas Lebanon team and every year we organize an event or activity to pay tribute. This year was no different and saw Dorcas and Embassy representatives come together to discuss the increase in violence against women and girls across the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about our COVID-19 emergency response in Lebanon in our dedicated country report.
18 December 2020
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