As the crisis in Lebanon deepens, American Friends offers food assistance

July 9, 2021- Posted in Disabilities, Lebanon

On Monday, as he waited for hours behind 70 cars to buy a half tank of gas, Archdeacon Imad Zoorob didn’t need to read the New York Times’ front page story about the economic crisis in Lebanon. He has been living with the impact of the rapidly devalued Lebanese Pound since early in the pandemic.

Students at St. Luke’s Center before the pandemic

“I get up at 6 a.m. to secure a place in line to get enough fuel to go to church,” said Zoorob, the sole Episcopal priest in Lebanon. Zoorob serves as rector of All Saint’s Church in Beirut as well as director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Center, the nearby boarding and day school for children with cognitive disabilities owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. “This is a picture of our lives on a daily basis,” he said earlier this week. “We ask for your prayers.”

According to the World Bank, the Lebanese Pound has lost 90 percent of its value. Life savings, the value of pensions, and the purchase power of wages have been reduced to virtually nothing. Zoorob explained, “People are still receiving their old wages which weren’t enough to keep them afloat when the currency was normal. Imagine now with this rate. God help us all.”

St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Center closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic, but Zoorob has stayed close to the students and staff and their families, who are struggling financially. For a time, with the outpouring of financial support from AFEDJ donors after the August 2020 explosion in the port of Beirut, Zoorob was able to offer food cards to the 83 families in the St. Luke’s community. 

As the financial crisis in Lebanon grew worse, Rev. Zoorob established the Food for St. Luke’s Families program which AFEDJ donors have continued to support. Zoorob said, “I am really grateful for such great and generous support for St. Luke’s families because the staff and the children are in great need.”

With its weak caretaker government and worsening economic crisis, Lebanon and its people will continue to face unimaginable challenges. Zoorob said earlier this week, “We are told by the government that subsidies for flour, for bread, for gasoline, for everything will soon end. We are told that this is just the beginning.”

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Take a one minute car ride with Archdeacon Imad Zoorob.