Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Germany-based Pontifical NGO, announced a donation that will be used to aid reconstruction efforts in Beirut, 10 weeks after the devastating port explosion that rattled the Lebanese capital in August.
The €5-million aid package, which amounts to about US$ 5,921,750, will be mainly used to help reconstruct Beirut after the massive blast caused widespread damage in the city, in addition to killing and wounding many people.
Several churches, convents, and a cathedral are among the damaged buildings in Beirut being repaired with the help of this initiative.
One of those is the St. Savior’s Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which lost its roof in the August 4th explosion. The parish priest of this church, Father Nicholas Riachy, stressed to ACN the importance of completing roof repairs soon as winter approaches.
He also pointed out the negative impact that the crisis Lebanon is going through has had on people in Lebanon, especially on those who lost their homes or parts of them to the blast.
In concordance, the executive president of ACN International, Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern, said that their priority “is to provide the necessary funds to complete the essential emergency repair work before the arrival of winter in order to forestall still greater damage, caused by the winter rains for example, and at the same time to make these buildings usable,” reported the organization.
Among other buildings that the ACN will be helping to repair in Beirut are the iconic Maronite Cathedral of St George,the convent at the hospital of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary, and the Mother House of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
This significant support by ACN is not the first since the August 4th explosion. ACN has provided emergency support within days of the blast to 5,880 homeless families.
Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern stated, “Pope John Paul II said that Lebanon has a special mission in the Middle East. ACN will always remember it. We will therefore continue to support the Christians in this country and [are] not going to leave them to face this task alone.”
Back in October, ACN’s project coordinator for the region, Reinhard Backes, led “a fact-finding and project-assessment” trip to Beirut, resulting in the organization’s new pledge of funding the repairs of churches and convents in Lebanon’s capital.
Because the explosion took place amid an ongoing serious economic and financial crisis that caused prices to soar, renovating and repairing buildings and houses has been an exceedingly difficult task for Beirut residents and their religious communities.
As a result, external donations have served as a vital part of the reconstruction process, in which local NGOs, with the help of these donations, have been predominantly active since the blast.