About a month after a gigantic explosion devastated the port region of the Lebanese capital city, Sister Maria Lúcia Ferreira describes an environment of desolation, despair and fear among the Christian community.
The Portuguese nun, better known as Sister Myri, and who belongs to the Congregation of the Nuns of Unity in Antioquia, explains, in a message to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the neighborhood of Achrafieh, “mostly inhabited by Christians”, was one of the areas most affected by the explosion. “It was a neighborhood that suffered a lot during the war”, recalls the Portuguese nun, “but the destruction, now, is much greater than during all that time”.
Sister Myri lives in the Monastery of São Tiago Mutilado, in Syria. However, when the explosion in Beirut took place, both her mother superior and some of the community’s nuns were very close to the Lebanese capital where they are carrying out various humanitarian aid projects.
“Despite being about 30 kilometers from Beirut, in the mountains that face the city, the sisters felt the explosion so well that Sister Carmen, who was cultivating her garden, felt a kind of wind, a breath that almost made her fall to the ground”, explains Maria Lúcia Ferreira.
The blast hit two neighborhoods, Maroun Mar and Achrafieh, which was predominantly Christian. Almost a month later, Sister Myri clarifies, the scenario of destruction remains almost unchanged.
Lebanon is going through one of the deepest economic crises in its history, with a huge devaluation of its currency, paralysis of the banking system, unemployment and even hunger, as ACN has reported in recent months. This situation, which was already so difficult, worsened profoundly with the brutal explosion that shook the city of Beirut on 4 August and this has repercussions among the Christian community.
In fact, the economic crisis, which seems to have no solution in sight, has led many families to leave for other countries where they can find work that offers a life with a minimum of dignity.
The Portuguese nun explained that there will be about “thirty thousand families” in these conditions. They are people to whom emigration is the only way out. “Now it is much worse,” summarizes Sister Myri, referring to the consequences of the explosion that hit the neighborhood of Achrafieh, made up of “resistant Christians, who did not emigrate, who stayed in Lebanon in spite of everything”.
In the face of the tragedy that hit the city of Beirut and the Christian community so badly, ACN is currently providing emergency aid amounting to 250 thousand euros , essentially for the “acquisition of food baskets ”.