In response to a call from the Ministry of Health on March 17th, spontaneous efforts of solidarity, with potential victims of the Coronavirus epidemic, are multiplying.
Most recent actions of support come from the Maronite Church, which has made two buildings available to the Ministry of Health: a residence in Jbeil and a hotel in Harissa (Keserwan), for people placed in quarantine after contamination and unable to ensure their isolation at home.
The Bishop of the Maronite Diocese of Jbeil, Mgr Michel Aoun, also placed at the disposal of the coronavirus patients forced into quarantine, the summer residence of the bishopric in Lehfed (Jbeil).
Dr. Assaad Ghanem is in charge of the project. The building, however, is under construction and will not be ready for a few weeks. In particular, the beds are missing.
For his part, Father Fadi Tabet of the Order of Lebanese Missionaries, who was recently appointed rector of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lebanon, announced that, after an agreement with the municipality of Harissa-Daraoun, the Bethania reception house will be made available to the health authorities.
Bethania reception house, a hotel residence generally reserved for pilgrims, will be accommodating affected COVID-19 people assigned to quarantine.
However, the surge of generosity alone is not enough. Buildings must be equipped and served by well-trained teams.
Father Khalil Alwan, the former rector of the Harissa sanctuary and secretary-general of the Assembly of Patriarchs and Catholic Bishops in Lebanon, tells L’Orient-Le-Jour:
“The project has aroused enthusiasm in Keserwan circles and, following a call, 29 volunteers have already offered their services for this project.”
Fr. Alwan added that “two companies have already offered their assistance, one for disinfecting the premises, the other for ensuring detergent products.”
The total cost of the project will be estimated by the Ministry of Health, but its funding remains uncertain.
The volunteers retained, says Fr. Alwan, will be trained under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, which entrusted this task to Nathalie Richa, President of the Nurses’ Union in Lebanon.
He points out that the cooperation of the Lebanese Red Cross will be “very present on the ground,” and that of the union of social workers will be requested if necessary.
It is the Ministry of Health, assures Fr. Alwan, who will give the final green light to the project, after approval of the prophylactic measures taken, and the assurance that this 50-room hotel will not constitute a new source of infection.
According to L’Orient-Le-Jour, a regulation is in progress to organize the relationship between the reception house and its future residents, and clarify the rights and obligations of each party.
People in confinement will enjoy a daily televised mass and may receive communion individually. They will take their meals in their rooms, but will not be able to receive their friends or family there.
One of the charms of the Bethania reception house is that it is attached to the Notre-Dame sanctuary in Lebanon. From its row of windows facing west, one can see the giant statue of Notre-Dame.
Founded at the beginning of the 20th century, the sanctuary is a common property of Bkerkeh and the Apostolic Nunciature and is entrusted to the care of the Lebanese Missionaries.