Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 7, 2014

The Valley of Uncertainty

Among Syrian Refugees in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon

The Bekaa Valley, regarded as Lebanon’s breadbasket, is a beautiful fertile valley located just a short drive east of Beirut. Situated between two mountain ranges, the approach to the Bekaa Valley offers some of the most magnificent vistas I have ever seen. From a distance, it looks idyllic — a patchwork of farmland carpeting the landscape for as far as the eye can see. But life in the Bekaa valley is less than idyllic these days as hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled there in search of safety from the chaos that has held their country in a death-grip for the past five years.

Early this morning, my friend Jamal Hasweh and I flew to Beirut to visit Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley. Jamal is the Director of Global Hope Network’s Middle East and North Africa humanitarian initiatives. Our team has enjoyed working with Jamal and his staff in Jordan over the past week. As I look to the future and how Kingsland can continue to have a presence on the front-lines of the Syrian crisis, I wanted to see what is happening with the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring Lebanon for safety.

Pointing to Bekaa Valley
My visit to the Bekaa Valley was overwhelming, not because it happens to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but because of the thousands of Syrian families living in tents clustered throughout the region. Who can blame families who have suffered the loss of so much for seeking refuge in neighboring countries, even if they are not always made to feel welcome and unscrupulous landlords charge them insane amounts to rent a place to live.

Bekaa Valley Family
There are no more rooms or flats available for rent in this region, only tents. Those renting flats are paying upwards of $500 USD per month for small rooms with running water and electricity. Poorer and less fortunate families pay as much as $600 USD annually to rent a tent and the small space it occupies. These families do not have the benefit of running water. Many families living in tents have managed to rig up electrical lines to their shelters, most of which are a patchwork of UNHCR plastic tarps and other found items.

Syrian Girl in Lebanon
Finding work is next to impossible. Men and women who were gainfully employed in Syria now struggle to make ends meet. Some have resorted to selling the food vouchers they receive from the United Nations in order to raise funds to pay their rent. There are few educational opportunities for their children. How sad that Syria’s greatest treasure, her children, do not have access to the kind of education that can one day ensure a brighter future for Syria. As a result of the ongoing fighting in Syria, the country is hemorrhaging its own future.

Syrian Refugee Boy in Lebanon
Displaced Syrian families have the same fears and hopes and dreams that any of us living in the security of suburban communities have. They want for their kids to get a good education, to live reasonably free from harm, and to have access to good medical care. One dad we met today invited us to his shelter to pray for his oldest daughter. She was born with heart problems, but now that they do not have access to medical care she is getting progressively worse. He cannot afford her medication or the surgery she will need. So, he simply asked us to pray for her. This is true religion: when you have a sick child and no money or medical plans on which to depend and you are left only with God to turn to.

Omar and Jamal Praying
As I prayed for this young girl, my prayers were accented by the sobs of her father. He just stood and wept even after I had finished praying. We all remained silent for the longest time while he regained his composure. “I can’t lose her,” he said through his tears, and then repeated, “I can’t lose her.” As I looked at him I thought about the hundreds of thousands of other moms and dads in the Bekaa Valley who are facing all sorts of challenges and heartaches. They all live lives of quiet desperation in what has become for them the valley of uncertainty.

Jamal and I were accompanied today by Joseph, a compassionate Lebanese pastor who walks slowly among the refugees, offering hope and encouragement. Joseph told us today that even though he has little to offer the suffering masses, they welcome him with open arms. Many have heard the good news about Jesus for the first time through Joseph. One family told him that the only good thing to come out of the war in Syria is that it drove them to the Bekaa Valley where they met him and heard the truth about Jesus and His love for them. Although the families in the Bekaa Valley live with so many uncertainties, many have come to believe that one thing is certain. A humble man named Joseph has shown them the meaning of compassion and unconditional love.


Responses

  1. What can we do?

    • The Global Hope Network folks here know and have access to these refugee families. I would love to share more with you when I get home on how so little here can go so far in terms of providing relief to these desperate families. Thanks for following our journey. Talk to you soon.


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