Posts Tagged ‘hopelessness’

Photo: Marwan Naamani/picture alliance/Getty Images
Amelia at the
Christian Science Monitor says, “As its economy and government collapse, Lebanon has become almost unrecognizable to its own people. Now, they are rallying around each other.”

When corrupt leadership creates a failed state, ordinary people may step up.

Taylor Luck has the story of Lebanon’s struggle today.

“Each day for Safa is the same: a race for a solution. Her husband, a construction worker, has been without work for six months. The two now worry about how to make their nearly bare cupboard – and the $30 in their bank account – stretch to make their next month’s rent. Her children skip one to two meals per day.

“ ‘We have no government, no services, no electricity, no currency, no hope,’ says Safa, who did not wish to use her full name. ‘Who can we even turn to?’

“It is a question being faced by many Lebanese: What happens when a state fails, and no one is there to help?

“In Lebanon – in the midst of what the World Bank is calling the worst economic collapse the world has seen since 1850, and in the aftermath of the third-largest nonnuclear explosion in human history – people are finding hope as scarce as the medicines and baby formula disappearing from store shelves.

Yet some are finding solace in leaning on one another, and, thanks to civil society groups that are refusing to give up, strength to make it through another day. …

“ ‘No one is coming to save us,’ says Beirut resident Rayan Khatoun.

“Her response, starting two years ago, was to help found a grassroots network that identifies the needs of vulnerable Lebanese families and launches fundraising appeals on social media.

“With support from the Lebanese diaspora abroad, the network, called All of Us, has helped hundreds of families, providing rent money to keep some off the streets, and providing others with dry food staples whose shelf life is unaffected by electricity cuts. …

“The collapse of Lebanon’s economy and the decline of government services have been a work in progress for years, the product of worsening political gridlock and corruption among competing sectarian elites.

“What began as a very visible failure to deliver basic services, such as trash collection, worsened as the country defaulted on its international debt and the economy crumbled. A grassroots protest movement two years ago sprang up to demand systemic political change, even before the pandemic and the devastating blast at the Port of Beirut destroyed for many Lebanese the last shreds of government function or accountability. …

“Lebanon has now become unrecognizable to its people. Beirut and most of Lebanon are in darkness. Out of cash, the national electricity provider turned off its generators completely [in October]. In the best of times, it provides one to two hours of electricity per day. …

“As the Lebanese say, ‘The surprises just keep coming.’ … It now costs more than 300,000 Lebanese pounds – nearly half the monthly minimum wage – for 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of gasoline. …

“ ‘Our coping mechanism is to make fun of the situation, slave the next day just to survive, come back home and rest a little,’ says Ms. Khatoun. ‘People just don’t have the energy to be angry.’

“The economic crisis is felt by all classes, but is crushing the working class. … [But] the fact that Lebanese’s misery is caused by financial and government mismanagement, rather than by earthquakes or war, makes it a tough sell to donor countries, many of whom insist that Lebanon stand on its own feet. …

“To help compensate for a failing government social safety net, the World Food Program is providing food parcels to 100,000 of the most vulnerable families across Lebanon, and modest cash assistance to 1.6 million people. …

“Unlike in previous crises, wealthy Gulf Arab states, the international community, and even Iran are not coming to Lebanon’s rescue with big-ticket bailouts. Instead, Lebanese are stepping up themselves, trying to do good where they can with rapidly dwindling resources. …

“Volunteers soldier on also at Embrace, a mental health care group whose emotional support and suicide prevention hotline, Lifeline, has become a critical service in the wake of last year’s port blast. …

“[But] dozens of Embrace’s volunteers have left Lebanon because they too, exhausted, can no longer afford life in the country. Embrace is already training the next batch of staff. … Says Rêve Romanos, a clinical supervisor and psychotherapist at Embrace. ‘Hopelessness is a recurrent theme for all of us.’

“But small things can help people cope, Dr. Romanos says. ‘Sometimes, just being able to vent, talk it out, and have someone listen can make a difference.’ ”

More at the Monitor, here.

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