Refugee/IDP Appeal - October 2016 Update

...the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness… Isaiah 61

Beauty for Ashes

In a bustling, lower middle-class and predominantly Christian suburb of Beirut, thousands of “brokenhearted” refugees from Iraq and Syria are being “bound up” by ministries which The Outreach Foundation – because of your generous gifts – has helped to support. 

 Grace

Grace

At the Our Lady Dispensary (OLD), a social service outreach center of the Middle East Council of Churches, social worker Grace Boustani and her small team are impacting the lives of 1,200 families. They come not only for food and medical care, but to participate in educational seminars as well as summer and holiday programs for themselves and their children which offer hope through a reminder that there is abundant life beyond their traumatic circumstances. The most recent Outreach gift (part of a total of $117,500 to date) strengthened the hand of our partner throughout the summer and early autumn to make critical distributions: food packages (with staples like rice, oil, sugar, tomato sauce), personal care kits (shampoo, detergent, toothpaste, etc.), medications for chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, vouchers to local grocery stores so that families can fulfill specific needs like diapers and milk, and rent assistance. The Outreach grant also provided for three “fun days” for children with crafts, games, songs and dance as well as a training session with a professional caterer for 13 women to learn how to prepare and sell cookies and pastries. Beauty for ashes…

 Lena

Lena

The relief work of OLD is both professional and personal. Grace and her team soon get to know many of the recipients and their stories like that of Lena, who had been an English teacher in Iraq. Her husband owned a small coffee shop, and they were raising their two daughters in the Syrian Orthodox Church. Then ISIS came and they were forced to leave everything and flee. Her husband has found work in agriculture, but the cost of living is high in Lebanon even for their very humble circumstances – they rent a single room, measuring 15 x 20. Their meager savings were soon exhausted when one of their daughters developed a skin condition over her entire body which was being aggravated by heat and humidity. Nine different dermatologists could not diagnose the problem. Lena finally brought her daughter to see a pediatrician who serves at OLD. The Outreach grant was able to cover the cost of a blood test, which identified the condition and the medications needed to bring her symptoms under control. Grace reports that Lena is trying hard to focus on the future and is eager to participate in an income-generating seminar. And her daughters? They would like to find dresses to wear to church. Beauty for ashes…

 Viviane 

Viviane 

On my last visit to OLD, our Outreach Foundation team was introduced to Viviane Brakhia, a volunteer with a nearby school just up the street. This school, run by the Assyrian Church of the East (one of the most ancient of Christian communions), has received many children whose families were driven out from their Christian villages by ISIS. The school urgently needed financial help to keep these children in their school, and The Outreach Foundation has been able to assist. Beauty for ashes…        

As I write the military push to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the self-proclaimed “capital” of ISIS in that country, has begun. Even as Iraqi and Kurdish troops move towards the city, these armies are clearing the terrorist forces out of the small Christian villages which they had also occupied in the surrounding Nineveh Plain. A second humanitarian crisis looms as those who had been living under oppressive rule finally are able to flee. The United Nations estimates that a million people may seek safe haven nearby in Syria and elsewhere in Iraq. 

Gifts to our Refugee/Internally Displaced Persons Appeal allow us to send funds to the churches and Christ-centered ministries which offer hope and healing to lives which have been devastated by war. In their outreach they truly are exchanging Beauty for ashes…

Gratefully,

Marilyn Borst    
Associate Director for Partnership Development

Gifts for the Refugee/IDP Appeal may be made by clicking HERE or by sending a check to our main office.