1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Mothers are God’s proof that angels exist.
And Lebanese mothers are enduring and coping with the worst economic crisis Lebanon has ever faced shielded with faith that God is always by their side, hope to face a new uncertain day, and their love for their children. This makes them the perfect example of angels.
Living in Akkar for most of her life, Safaa mother of five children who recently became four after losing her daughter to a chronic disease, is surviving one day at a time. Her husband, who used to work in construction, became a casual worker in agriculture in a field near their home, “He makes 100,000 LBP on a good day (US$ 1 equals around 38 000 LBP but this rate changes daily)”, she adds, “we buy food with it, we try to give our children pocket money for school and we save the rest for the school bus. We have to pay him 1,500,000 LBP for three children every month”.
Thanks to the sponsorship programme at World Vision, Safaa and her family receive food parcels that ease a small burden off this mother’s shoulders.
But what about the other necessities, expenses and necessary nutriments that children need to grow properly?
“Imagine if one of the children gets sick, we ask the Lord to have mercy on us”, Safaa says.
Because of the increase in prices, she has to choose between buying cheese or Zaatar (means thyme) for her children, buying both items is out of the question, she states “I have to disregard a lot of things, our situation is unbearable now.”
With her husband’s modest income, Safaa manages to buy bread, but because their situation deteriorated enormously, she had to make sacrifices and deprive her children from many things, “We cannot afford to buy meat, chicken or dairy products anymore, the situation doesn’t allow me. My son likes chocolate dip sandwiches for school, but we cannot afford the jar anymore”, she explains.
At the beginning of the crisis, Safaa was able to find ways to replace their demands and needs, like making French fries instead of chicken to calm them, but now children are more aware of how bad the situation is. She relies on her family to send some vegetables from their fields, like potatoes and peas. “One kilogram of peas costs 50,000 LBP now”, she explains.
A mother’s love.
“I am not ashamed of anything as long as I am feeding my children”, Safaa declares.
Some family members have agriculture lands, and with their consent she picks what she needs for her babies. Still, she is ignoring lots of their needs and desires like her daughter’s wish to have new clothes, despite managing the money to appease all of them.
This year, Safaa could not register her little girl, Dalaa, 7, at school because she could not afford to pay for the bus. “Last week, all of them stayed home, the bus driver did not pick them up because we could not pay him. I had to ask a friend to lend me money for the bus.
Without the help of my family and friends, we can barely survive”, she says heartbroken.
She had to sacrifice Dalaa’s education for now to ease the burden a little bit.
Although their father is the one who works, she is the engine. She has to manage everything, their education, their health, their food, their drink, “I am everything”, she confirms.
“Being a mother means sacrificing everything for your children. I had to sell the microwave and the blender to buy food”, she says.
Add to all this the death of her daughter who suffered from a chronic disease that paralyzed her. She died at home because she could not afford to take her to the hospital.
“I am a strong woman, but life took a toll on me”, Safaa expresses, “I have to stay strong for my children”.
“I cry because I have to let go of the bad emotions inside of me so I do not channel them to my children”, she affirms. Thanks to the weekly psycho-social support sessions with World Vision, Safaa feels relieved. She knows she has a safe space to express and release what is inside. She went through many hard situations, and thanks to God she is still able to stand on her feet and survive for her children.