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The Coronavirus Diaries: 'The Lord Will Not Forsake Us'

The Coronavirus Diaries: 'The Lord Will Not Forsake Us'

Wednesday March 3

Sylvia Haddad, Director JCC, National Evangelical Church of Syria and Lebanon, says that Covid-19 is not the country's biggest worry


I am not sure when I noticed that the spark in my daughter’s eyes had faded. Was it during the continuous lockdowns? Was it when her home was destroyed by the massive explosion in Beirut port? Was it when she told her 18-year-old daughter to abandon her dream of studying at a university abroad as the money that she had painstakingly put aside for her after all these years was suddenly almost worthless?

As the weeks pass, I see that same lack of lustre in the eyes of so many people. Yes, even in me.

Like the rest of the world, we are trying to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. We put on not one, but two face masks for extra safety. We sanitise and wash our hands constantly. We social distance.  We sit out lockdowns. We do all that we have been urged to do. Like most, we pray that we and our loved ones don’t catch the virus.

But truth be told, the virus is not at the forefront of our worries. The country had begun to collapse a few months before Covid-19 reared its ugly head. The ever-worsening economic decline snapped in October 2019, triggering mass anti-government protests across the country.

Then Covid-19 hit. With the lockdowns, the economic crisis deepened. The Lebanese currency lost 80 percent of its value. The prices of everyday household goods skyrocketed, leaving those earning wages in Lebanese Lira struggling to make ends meet and to put food on the table for their families

Moreover, people whose bank accounts were in US dollars were suddenly told that they could no longer draw dollars from banks and ATM machines. The banks imposed capital controls on our accounts. The money we had earned and saved in these accounts was no longer available to us. The dollars were dubbed ‘Lollars’ meaning ‘Lebanese dollars’, and no longer having any real value.

Then, in August last year, when Lebanese people thought it could not get worse, some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, shoddily stored at the Beirut port, exploded. It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded. It killed over 200 people, injured more than 5,000, badly damaged a large swathe of East Beirut, and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

Hundreds of Lebanese rushed to the devastated site to help the wounded and remove the dead. Lebanese youths, armed with shovels, brooms, helmets, and masks spent weeks afterward cleaning up the rubble from the homes and the streets. It was a touching show of humanity. Unfortunately, it also gave the virus a chance to find new victims. And the virus spread.

Today, those lucky enough to have 'fresh dollars' (real dollars not ‘Lollars’) have left the country. Those who lost their jobs, eagerly await international handouts. Others eye the banks, hoping against hope that their ‘Lollars’ will revert to real dollars. Our hospitals have exceeded their capacities caring for Covid-19 patients, and, to make matters worse, medical supplies and some vital medicines are no longer available.  There are not enough dollars left in Lebanon to make international purchases.

But the Lord will not forsake us, and so we hold on. We pray every day and every moment for an end to Covid-19, for an end to our economic crisis, and to an end to the soaring poverty that surrounds us.

May the Lord be with you and bless you.


The Coronavirus Diaries: reflections from Church of Scotland partners around the world

South Korea: 'It is Time For Christians to Hear the Marginalised'
Cuba: Keep Moving On
Canada: Cracks Have Been Exposed
Kenya: Leave No Child Behind
USA: Homes of Prayer
Mozambique: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
A Spaniard in Scotland: The Power of Movement
South Sudan: Being Positive
A Nigerian in Scotland: God is in Charge
Trinidad and Tobago: New Frontiers
Czech Republic: A Challenge for Everybody
Switzerland: An Outpouring of Solidarity and Creativity
The West Bank: A Landscape of Broken Dreams
Nepal: So Many Premature Goodbyes
Malawi: We Must Hold Each Other Close
Nigeria: A Fresh Spiritual Connectedness
Egypt: 'This Is A Time To Witness God'
Guyana: The Strength of our Connectedness
South Korea: A Harsh Reality
Zimbabwe: Convenience or a Wake-up Call?
Sri Lanka: Service is the Highest Form of Worship
USA: Testing Positive
Portugal: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed
World Council of Churches: A New Dawn is Upon us
Hungary: Physically Distant but Close in Spirit
A German in Scotland: Something New Has Already Begun
Myanmar: We Will Overcome this Hardship
Ghana: This Too Shall Pass
Brazil: The Least We Can Do
Kenya: Caring for One Another in Christ
An Indian in Germany: A Time of Enrichment
Argentina: Time in Between
Malawi: 'My identity in Christ remains unchanged'
Jerusalem: Being Rather than Doing
Malawi: No Lockdown and an Election
Zambia: 'I will never leave you... or forsake you'
Czech Republic: The Covid Cover-up
Zambia: 'All Life is Sacred'
Israel/Palestine: 'The Air is Clear'
Nepal: 'Please Pray for Us'
Malawi: Tough Dilemmas
Italy: 'Together, We Will Get Through It'