Connections With Msgr. Peter: Rebuilding in the Middle East

CNEWA’s Beirut office has been at the forefront of the humanitarian response to crises in the Middle East, particularly in northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, where disaster has plunged the populations into a state of emergency.

Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari welcomed four members of the Beirut office, including its regional director, Michel Constantin; Patriarch Raphael Bedros XXI Minassian of the Armenian Catholic Church; and Holy Family Sister Hadia Abi Chebli, director of Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui, to the latest installment of “Connections With Msgr. Peter.” The livestream aired from the roof of the hospital on 26 April and is available to watch on CNEWA’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

“We ask you [for] your blessing, your grace to all who are suffering in this hospital and in this country,” Patriarch Raphael said in his opening prayer. “We ask you because you are our Father; you are our leader. We are your faithful, and we are here gathered like your disciples to lead, to assist and to help whoever is in need. O Lord, bless us and give us the courage to continue your mission on this earth.”

In CNEWA’s world, this mission is made possible by the donors who generously support the agency’s programs across the globe.

Lebanon has suffered immensely since the 4 August 2020 port explosion, which killed more than 200 people and injured close to 7,000. Now, the nation’s sociopolitical and economic systems are in disarray, and hospitals and schools are suffering from staff and resource shortages, said Imad Abou Jaoude, CNEWA’s program manager for Syria and Iraq.

The instability of Lebanon’s medical system places a strain on the entire nation, but especially hits the poor and the large number of refugees who struggle to afford health care. One program run out of the Beirut office supports these communities by helping to cover the costs of medical care, making it more accessible. “Last year, we helped 14,000 persons through this program,” Mr. Jaoude reported.

A similar issue exists in Lebanon’s schools and CNEWA covers partial tuition fees for more than 10,000 students across some 40 Catholic schools, said Marlene Tobajian Constantin, program manager for Egypt and health care programs in Lebanon.

In Syria, earthquake relief has remained a continuous effort of the Beirut office, which has raised approximately $1.5 million in emergency relief, said Rita Sleiman Bishara, senior project manager for Syria and Lebanon.

The office is providing food packages, basic furniture and other belongings and psychosocial programs to earthquake victims in Syria.

Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari concluded the livestream with updates on upcoming CNEWA events, including its 18 May golf outing and the second annual gala on 5 December.

Olivia Poust is assistant editor of ONE.

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