This last period has been tough on many in Lebanon. The economic crisis has become more severe and even unbearable to not just a few. Some have lost their jobs, some aren't getting their whole paychecks, everything's cost is increasing by the day, and the political authority can't seem to (want to) know how to form the technocrat government to save the country.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese people are rising to the extreme challenge in order to support each other, especially at the painful wake-up call that ensued from some acts of despair recently in the country.
Humanity at its best, compassion in selfless actions, initiatives of loving unity, no one is perceived as a stranger these days in the quaking Land of the Mighty Cedars. Siblings hands in hands, conscious citizens without government, they are assuming responsibility of each other to ensure that all make it through. Let's take a look at some relevant examples:
#1 Giving out basic essentials
These protesters laid out free bread and clothes in front of the Lebanese bank in Hamra, Beirut, thus providing people with the very basic needs they may be deprived of. No matter how small the gesture is, there will be someone who needs it.
#2 Providing free food for those in need
Another example of people keeping others' needs in check: Free potatoes "for the poor only", similar provisions of food and bread are being on display in the streets across Lebanon. Initiatives to sustain struggling families for few days, and help them spare for other urgent needs like medication and heating fuel.
Similarly, this woman in Jounieh set up a table with some food she bought herself, and her sign states: "A poor Lebanese donating to a poorer Lebanese... Together, hand in hand, so we live with dignity."
#3 The generosity of some local stores and restaurants
We have been seeing A LOT of these generous, amazing, and thoughtful acts of support. Many Lebanese restaurants, bakeries, and stores haven't been charging poor people.
Their signs say: "My fellow Lebanese citizen; if you don't have money, don't be shy and don't leave your family without food. Come in and take whatever you need. My livelihood and your livelihood are in God's hands."
#4 Ensuring everyone a warm winter
Some Lebanese fuel stations have been allowing needing customers to take free gallons of fuel to spare their families the cold winter. This fuel station in the southern city of Tyre states the following in its sign:
"People are for each other ... and without shyness. If you don't have money to pay for fuel to keep you kids warm take a gallon and God will forgive you. And those with God-given livelihood, donate even if just 1,000 L.L. And the livelihood is in the hands of God."
#5 Setting up Give-or-Take street displays
These stands are set up on the streets by the revolutionaries of Bedawi in Tripoli. The sign reads: "If you're in need, take. If you are not, give."
People able to donate food and basic essentials are leaving their donations on this stand so that those in need can benefit from them. This great idea is working and the tables are always full, which means that many are indeed helping freely and many families are being fed.
#6 Initiatives of extra work
Ibrahim el Achkar is a Lebanese fisherman of Tyre that has been donating his daily catch to those in need. Every night after work, he goes fishing and distributes his yields to the needy in his area, Sour.
This generous and thoughtful man isn't just giving away what he already has, but he is working extra to provide families of his area with food. Absolutely amazing!
#7 Some doctors are charging only symbolic fees
"We're here for each other. Considering the tough economic circumstances, especially with the costs of medical treatments, we invite everyone who can't pay for medical expenses to come to us. Our consultation will only cost you 3000 L.L." which amounts to $2. The sign of this medical center in the southern city of Sidon also indicates that the center has available doctors of all specialties.
This isn't the only enactment of compassion Lebanon is witnessing from medical and health professionals these days. There are many more doctors and associations that are offering cheap treatments, and some even for free.
#8 Independent professionals are offering their services for free
"Dear Lebanese people, if you have any emergency electrical damage in your home and can't afford to get it fixed, don't leave your family and kids without light or heat. Contact me and I'll come to fix it for free, for my livelihood and yours are in God's hands."
This one is a personal initiative from a regular Lebanese person to help another regular Lebanese person using his professional skills. Many like him have been doing so as well, posting on social media their readiness to come to the rescue with their skills.
#9 Teachers cutting off on their private tutoring fees
"Considering Lebanese people's tough economical situations; I, as a mathematics teacher, offer to support Lebanese students who need some hours of private tutoring in the Aramoun area for a 30% discount."
A similar person in Beirut has posted on FB offering free tutoring recently, as well as family meals. A group of youths has also posted on Instagram their willingness to support with tuition fees.
#10 Offering free medications
This young Lebanese woman posted on social media a list of meds she has available to give away. Her post says: "These medications are available for those who need them with the condition that they must bring a doctor's prescription. It's important that we help one another."
She names people who are also helping and with whom she's in communication, stating: "I am ready to communicate with anyone who is doing good deeds." This act of compassion can be very helpful to many people, especially those who take permanent medications.
#11 Making sure the ads are out there
This restaurant/bakery in Sidon is making Manakich for needing customers. They also made sure the ad is out there on social media so that people can see it and benefit from it.
Out of concern for desperately in need people not to commit suicide, they invited anyone who doesn't have money not to be shy and leave their family without food. "Your mankouche is ready and free, we are all here for each other."
#12 Students helping each other out
This isn't the only time the students of the Lebanese University have taken such supportive action, but right now it is very common. Fundraising boxes for enrollment fees and books are set in the libraries of the university, aiming to help as many students as possible.
The Lebanese University is the least costing university in Lebanon, but still many people can't afford to enroll or pay for the books.
#13 Lebanese people just want each other to be okay
Overall, the Lebanese people are deeply worried and concerned about each other. "It is unacceptable that any Lebanese person dies from hunger" is what this post circulating online states. It indicates the different numbers to call if they are in despair, or need clothing, or are deprived of food, and even need support with rent, or medical treatments.
If you or someone you know needs is struggling with mental health or depression or despair, please don't hesitate to reach out to the friendly team at Embrace by calling 1564. Whatever the situation may be, someone is always willing to help, you just have to ask.
#14 Distributed Food supported by the Lebanese diaspora
The961 Foundation gave out over 250 meals in Tripoli on Sunday, coordinating with our correspondent in Tripoli and local volunteers. "Lebanon is going through very tough times and we need to come together as a community in Lebanon and abroad to help those in need," said The961 Founder Anthony Kantara.
In his words, "As we enter winter, many families are going to struggle paying for food and heating [...]. This to no fault of their own. The Lebanese people are the hardest working and most ambitious people. The corrupt system has failed them."
The961 plans to continue providing life-essential support thanks to the contributions of the Lebanese in the diaspora. You also can help wherever you are. "Every dollar helps. We’ve been able to put a meal together for less than $1," said Anthony Kantara whose The961 Foundation is also setting up a volunteer team for those wishing to help.
All that we just cited above are striking proof that the Lebanese people are selflessly generous, caring, and 100% awesome creatures, and that they can take care of a whole nation better than any government that has ever ruled Lebanon.
These initiatives show that Lebanon is going to be fine as long as it has its great people. They are what makes Lebanon a strong and beautiful country! They are the Mighty Cedars holding on fiercely to the ground shaking underneath them, for their legacy of survivors is stronger than any challenge, whatever extreme.