Zeinab, from Lebanon 

Just to illustrate some of the things International Orthodox Christian Charities has been doing to help and enable people with disabilities:


“The crowded top floor of the Beita Charitable Society near Nablus bustled with activity: women organizing and tidying up, elders from the village council escorting us through the new work areas, and a young man preparing chai, the traditional Palestinian tea and a staple of village hospitality. … My gaze drifted to the Society’s construction area where a group of young men – local workers employed under the emergency employment program – were mixing cement and laying electrical wires. Their smiles and lively conversations revealed relief at having found employment after perhaps two years without. I noticed one man, in his middle twenties, who appeared to be the construction foreman. Efficiently giving instructions, he looked different than the others: considerably thinner, his right arm was curled and he walked with a noticeable limp.

I called over Dr. Nasser Jaghoub, chairman of the Beita Charitable Society, and enquired about the young foreman. He explained that Saher A’ddeileh had suffered infantile paralysis as a result of polio. This left his right limbs disabled and his confidence shattered. Dr. Jaghoub explained, ‘Coming from a large family with limited resources, he always felt as though he didn’t fit in because he was unable to work and contribute to the family financially. So, you can imagine when we approached him with a job training opportunity, at first he thought we did so out of pity. But he joined the course anyway, and quickly mastered the “how to’s” of staff supervision, work evaluations, receiving and completing assignments for contractors, and financial accounting. Almost immediately, his morale improved.’

Dr. Jaghoub smiled contently at how this program had changed the life of a young person. “Since the training course finished, Saher has been overseeing our site work here. He also takes on additional duties on a voluntary basis. His contribution is appreciated by everyone.” For a few moments more, I continued watching Saher, unable to restrain my admiration.

On a subsequent visit to the Beita Charitable Society, I again enquired about Saher, the promising young foreman. With delight I was told that he had recently achieved another “milestone.” For the first time in his twenty-five years, Saher participated alongside his family in October’s olive harvest. I couldn’t help but smile, pleased by the news of the impact of our work.

Zeinab is a widow, and lost the use of her legs eight years ago. She has seven children between the ages of 13 and 40 whom she relies on for support. “If they work, that is good. If not, we try and manage.”
In the nearby village of Hebbariyeh, Kassim is also sitting on the floor. He is nearly 90, blind, hard of hearing and cannot walk without assistance. Kassim, his 85 year-old wife, and their grown daughter have no income, living solely off what they grow on their land.
Taish and Kassim are representative of IOCC’s beneficiaries in the South – the disabled, the elderly, families without incomes – in short, those most in need. Asked if there are other families in the village in similar circumstances, Shawki Youssef, Hebbariyeh’s mayor, replies that there are many, and that IOCC was the only organization to provide assistance after the war specifically for the disabled.
“We chose the most vulnerable from each village because they often face challenges even under normal circumstances, let alone after a war,” says Linda Shaker Berbari, IOCC Lebanon Program Coordinator. “In the case of the disabled, special medical needs can put a great financial burden on families,” she continued. The cost of eye drops for Kassim – $40 a month – “is killing us,” says his daughter. The family’s kitchen was badly damaged during last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hizbullah, as was their water tank. Like other families in the region, they cannot afford to repair the damages themselves.
More than 3,500 families in southern Lebanon have been directly assisted by IOCC since last summer’s conflict through a grant by the U.S. Government’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). In the immediate aftermath of the war, IOCC gave each family hygiene parcels and blankets. In the months since, they have received a four month supply of diesel fuel to heat their homes during the winter. Kassim and his family received a heater and Zeinab received a stove – it’s the one she is cooking on when her guests arrive. Most recently, both families received carob, almond and olive trees, vegetable seeds and agricultural tools, as part of IOCC’s agricultural support to families in the region.
And yet, while each family bears great hardship, each is touchingly grateful. Asked by Zorba what she hopes for from the trees, Zeinab responds, “Anything they provide, I thank God for.”
The IOCC is listed under Orthodox Christians Ministries in the “Resources” section of this website.

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