Witnessing refugee hardships first hand in Lebanon

LEBANON—In these dispatches Diocesan Social Media leader John Grosso offers a brief but stark look at the hardship suffered by Syrian refugees as he and others from the diocese wind up their mission trip to the region: “When you have your country, you have everything. When you don’t, you have nothing.”

That’s what we heard yesterday when we met with a family that fled to Lebanon after the violence in Syria started. Hearing their journey to Lebanon, the dangers they faced, and the fear that the felt was both incredibly emotional and devastating. The family had 5 beautiful kids, including one who has a physical disability. Can you imagine the difficulty fleeing with 5 kids? Including one who can’t walk?

We sat listening to their story, captivated. Despite the suffering they endured, we were welcomed with open arms and treated as friends. We will never forget yesterday.

As we prepare to head home tonight, we thought we would share yesterday’s experience visiting an Informal Settlement of Refugees in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon.

In the settlement, 80 families are living in 50 tents. That’s over 750 people living in 50 small tents in the middle of a field.

We met with a family who had escaped Syria 4 months ago. They described their harrowing journey, including climbing up and down a mountain with two kids (the youngest just over 1).

Health and education issues are abundant with refugee populations in Lebanon, despite the best efforts of many amazing organizations like Catholic Relief Services, the UN and Caritas Lebanon. The scope of this problem is too huge.

Our brothers and sisters are suffering on a magnitude that is beyond comprehension. We have to help them.