Hundreds of thousands of people have crossed into Lebanon to escape the violence in neighboring Syria. Immediately they find unemployment, a high cost of living, and diminished funding from abroad. Resources are scarce due to the overwhelming need amongst both the Lebanese and the Syrians. But it is our mission to “serve the least of these” and to enable them to move from poverty and despair to self-sufficiency and hope.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me…”(Matthew 25:35-36).
With this spirit of the scriptures, Jinishian Memorial Program-Lebanon is responding to the needs of Syrian refugees in our midst.
As of September 6, 2012 our social worker and community health workers started receiving Syrian displaced people who applied for assistance. We offered medication for chronic illness, minor medical exams, and hospitalization. Because of good networking with our partners, the applicants were referred to dispensaries, laboratories and hospitals and secured major discounts or other savings. We made successful job placements for some employment seekers, and many families received food parcels.
Through continuous contact with our Aleppo colleagues, we were able to verify clients from Syria, and continue financial assistance to those clients in Lebanon, primarily for medical reasons, by transferring the Jinishian Memorial Program funds. Whenever needed, we made home visits. When new applicants came for aid—with some fact-finding into the socio-economic situation of the family—we worked with them to create an atmosphere of mutual trust.
The Armenian community in Lebanon is working diligently to coordinate the assistance given and to seek additional sources for anticipated needs among the displaced. Dispensaries and medical centers offered their services for free, and Armenian schools did not ask for tuition payment for all those who claimed to be needy. The Howard Karagheuzian Commemorative Corporation provided transportation to the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Relief where they registered to receive assistance.
Human need in these times has multiplied beyond belief—initial civil unrest in Syria has given way to heavily armed insurgents and acts of war leaving a toll of death and destruction that still appears to have no end. And yet through cooperation and hope, we are meeting the needs before us. People are grateful, yet they are homesick. Jinishian Memorial Program-Lebanon is committed with a Christian spirit to help these, our brothers and sisters.