Priests and religious Sisters in Lebanon have explained how the solar panels donated by ACN have enabled them to survive soaring energy costs.

Basic necessities like electricity are prohibitively expensive in Lebanon and Syria because of an ongoing economic crisis, making renewable energy systems crucial, according to the local Church.

Sister Yaout of the Maronite Sisters of the Holy Family in Lebanon – whose congregation runs an orphanage and supports those with learning disabilities – told ACN: “The state provides one or two hours of electricity a day, but it is very expensive…

“We used to have to pay a subscription to the generator, which cost us $30, plus expenses of between $300 and $400 – but now with the solar panels it is down to $6, and for the autumn months it was nothing at all, so we have saved a lot.”

The Sisters’ orphanage in Jezzine, southern Lebanon – which cares for around 30 children – is now supplied with electricity converted from the sun’s rays. The new power system was supported by ACN.

Local Church contacts said that the recession has severely impacted Church activities, with parishes and religious communities being unable to organise pastoral programmes because of the high costs of heating and food storage.

Church-run institutions – such as orphanages and nursing homes – are also struggling to operate in the darkness, and food poisoning is rampant due to a lack of refrigeration.

ACN has provided solar panels for the Church in Lebanon and Syria as part of a support package over the last two years.

The beneficiaries of ACN’s help include 24 religious congregations, 37 parishes in 16 dioceses, 22 schools, 11 convents and seven seminaries and novitiates across the two countries.

Father Pierre Jabbour, bursar at the Maronite Patriarchal Seminary in Ghazir, Lebanon said: “After 4 years of crisis, we have learnt to save a lot and to reduce the budget for food, activities and other things.

“Thanks to your help, we have been able to install a solar panel system, which has enabled us to reduce our annual fuel bill.”

Father Jabbour concluded: “Thanks to the help of your generous donors, the seminarians were able to follow their formation courses and carry out their missionary activities in complete serenity, despite the circumstances surrounding Lebanon.”