Thanks to your support every month 3,000 Syrian refugees are given food aid by Heart for Lebanon, an Open Doors partner organisation working with displaced Syrians living in Lebanon. “We want to restore integrity and dignity to the refugees. They have already suffered a lot, and now in Lebanon they suffer again because of rejection, lack of opportunities and a lack of resources.” said Camille Melki, head of Open Doors supported organisation, Heart for Lebanon.
Melki has seen a huge impact in the refugees they work with. “It restores their dignity, people see they have brothers and sisters in their host community. But it also helps people to realise that they have the opportunity to reach out to fellow refugees. We focus on relationship building, we’re not a one-time distribution agency. We listen to the people; they know we come back to them.”
FROM PEACEKEEPERS TO OCCUPIERS
But it hasn’t always been easy for Melki, “Our country was occupied by Syria from 1976 till 2005,” Melki said. “So the Lebanese have an issue with the Syrians because of that period in which Lebanon suffered a lot. The Syrians came as peacekeepers, but they ended up as occupiers of the country.”
In 2012 when civil war broke out in neighboring Syria, over one million Syrians poured in to Lebanon looking for a safe place to live. Now Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world and Melki set about to help them.
“People ask us why Heart for Lebanon is helping Syrians,” said Melki. “I see them as people on a train ride from despair to the destination hope. We want to disciple, to strengthen and to connect them, to help them to not grow weary because of persecution or rejection.”
Sometimes Melki’s work leads to problems, “We recently helped a Syrian mother who was physically abused by her husband. She is now in a safe house. Her husband figured out who helped her. He has been threatening us. Last Thursday he came to the main office looking for me. He threatens us and accuses us of wanting to Christianize people. But we don’t want to change someone’s religion, we share Christ.
“We help the Syrian and Iraqi families, Muslims and Christians, unconditionally. We are open about what drives us. That fits in our culture. In some countries, social conversation normally begins with talking about the weather; in the Middle East it’s more about politics and religion, conversations about religion are common.”
Heart for Lebanon works in refugees camps across Lebanon, supporting an average of 3,000 families each month with food package – 900 families are from Iraq, the rest fled from Syria. Melki leads a team of 56 dedicated workers from different Middle Eastern countries who are passionate about seeing the people they care for find hope.
SPEAK UP FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
Speak up for Christians and other minorities in the Middle East by signing the Hope for the Middle East petition, which will be presented to the UN on 11 December 2017. The petition currently has over 750,000 signatures from 143 countries including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq and even one signature from North Korea! But hurry, the petition closes at 4pm on 8 December. Sign and share the petition now and speak out for the Middle East.