Travel report from Sr Hatune from Lebanon and Jordan 02.-08.08.2015
My trip to Lebanon and Jordan was unfortunately very short.
In Lebanon, there are still 40% Christians, the rest are Muslims. It is a small country, and very overcrowded now, as there are four million refugees from the war in Syria and Iraq. 2.5 Million of them are approved by the authorities, the rest of them lives illegal there.
During my stay I saw and heard a lot. The borders are heavily guarded and everyone’s stay is controlled. Somebody, who stays in the country more than 15 days has to pay a 100$ fine. In Beirut, there is traffic chaos every day. The climate is hot. On top of that, the garbage collection is on strike, waste is piling up in the streets, it stinks beastly – but no one seems to care.
The first day after arrival, I went to the German Consulate. There was a big crowd of people, all lined up. Most of them were there to apply for visa and political asylum. They just waited, patiently in the heat. Many would have to return the next day, because they didn’t even came into the office. It seemed almost impossible to enter the building.
After that, I drove to the camps to visit the refugees. They suffer terribly. Life is really bad there. The refugees come predominantly from Iraq, and Syria, and most of them are Christians. The team tried to ease their suffering by donations in kind (clothing, shoes) and with money. I also gave some few urgent psychological help. I saw many people deeply traumatized.
Many were wounded during their escape from ISIS. One man got hit by a shrapnel when he fled months ago in northern Syria. First he was left behind, heavily wounded, but after a while he was brought to a mobile clinic. He is now paraplegic and suffering from bedsore. Since he was saved he had been lying in bed on his back, in a relative’s home. The open wounds do not heal. He still desperately needs professional medical treatment, that he hopes to get in Germany. Although his relatives and friends have collected $ 30.000 and prepaid it to a clinic in Bonn, Germany, the German embassy has declined his request for a visa. Although the clinic has approved his treatment, the embassy claims, that the documents he showed to justify his trip to Germany were not trustworthy.
We can only pray that the German embassy thinks again and takes another look at the documents and this poor man’s whole situation.
The third day there the team and I went out buying food and other necessities for 300 families. After delivering the packets to the refugees, I did something I normally never do. Together with three of our volunteers I went to a flowstone cave. For me, it was a gigantic experience, because I never before took the time off to visit any touristic sights in the countries I travel. My heart and my head are always full of the hardships, that I encounter everywhere.
We started all over again buying goods for the refugees. In the camp we visited, there was a lot of sick and wounded people. They had all been attacked by ISIS.
I was happy, that my brother Habib had come from Germany to accompany me. It was really hard. These people have nothing. We helped them with money so they can buy clothes, medicine and medical treatment.
The hardships of the people, of the many orphans are huge. The sorrows of the mothers for their children are never ending. Our help and support for them is scarce.
In the evening, we were at the Mor Gabriel monastery, at the Saint’s Days, the patronage celebration. The epiphany of The Lord was also celebrated there. We participated in the Holy Communion. 98% of the attendees were refugees from Syria and Iraq.
In the morning, Holy Communion at the celebration of epiphany of The Lord at St. Jacob of Sarug church in Beirut. 90% of the attendees were refugees. We dispensed clothing food and money to the people there. An escaped Christian from Homs, Syria reported: ISIS captured their houses, abducted or killed all Christians. Many others are in terrible fear afraid to get killed.
The Christians in this region desperately need protection. My petition to the Europeans and Americans is not to look away idly. There are no good expectations for the minorities, especially for Christians and Yazidis. The latter still have a refuge in the Shingal mountains, but not the Christians, they are all without a home. They are searching for places, where they can live in safety. Everything is very, very sad and unbearable for us at the same time. The West is supplying the powerful groups with weapons and is empowering the persecutors by that. The minority groups, Christians and Yazidis remain unprotected.
Soon, I will return personally into the Middle East, to give them the most necessary. For example, we have to hide the girls, that were freed from ISIS before they can leave to Europe. So, to make all this possible, we ask You kindly for a donation.
Thank You very much in the name of all the poor and persecuted people for your help.
May God’s blessing be with You
Sr. Hatune Dogan