Wednesday 27 January 2016

A health day in Lebanon

When you don't have a health service and the government doesn't even provide the basics you realise what people suffer for lack of health care. What is available is provided through charities. Which is fine if those charities have all the reassurances they need. But they don't here. I was spending the days visiting some of the projects supported by the British Muslim charities.

We started in the south of the country at a mobile clinic that services the Syrian refugees in the region. It's funded partly by Islamic Relief UK.

We then moved onto visit a new project run by the Medrar foundation. I met the CEO, Rami Harajli, who is in charge of the work. He is a nephew I believe of the President of the Parliament. In this part of south Lebanon they are Shia. We saw rather a lot of posters and propaganda for Hezbollah. You see him here in front of the building that is going on.

But then it was moving north and a meeting with the Sunni Chief Mufti. A fine cleric and scholar who is also the chief judge in these parts.

Then it was straight to the north of the country and a hospital in Tripoli. Human Appeal have donated equipment to start an eye clinic in the hospital that proved medical care for the Syrian refugees who come from across the nearby border. 700,000 of them in and around these parts   A great and ancient port city known to the Romans and Greeks, we finished our field tour by eating at a fish restaurant by the harbour. I choose a dorado which they then grilled for me. With prawns and calamari  it was a lovely end to a hectic day. Again it's notable how little the government does for anyone. It is only the work of charities like the Muslim Charity Forum that supports such good humanitarian causes. When I was in the hospital in Tripoli I spoke to a young lad who had a badly broken leg. He has lost all his family. And now the job he had. 

It's worth remembering when we have so much publicity about extremism that there is a groups of strong and effective Muslim charities who are funding vital work in this war ravaged region. When we know the draw of Europe for so many refugees it's good that there are British charities who are doing vital work that support people staying in the region. Though this is support at the most basic and more is needed. Meeting families and hearing their stories brings home to you the need for a strong humanitarian response to this crisis.

At least here the refugees have a home in a building not a tent. Basic but at least better in the bitter cold. Built by the UN but they still have to pay rent for each room they use.
Got a rather sad girl keen on me taking her picture so here it is.

Then it was onto a spectacular project in the Deep South; a brand new hospital being built as a state of the art teaching hospital in a prime spot on a mountain top. Lots of fresh air! It is funded by the Medrar foundation. I met the CEO of  the foundation, Rami Harajli, and he is also on the board for the new medical centre. He is the nephew  (I think I got this right?) of the President of the Lebanese Parliament, who comes from these parts. In the interesting constitutional set up here the President of the Parliament is a Shia. The Prime Minister a Sunni and the President a Maronite Christian.
And no visit would be good without meeting with the religious leaders, so we had a short time with the Mufti in South Lebanon.


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