By Admir Bajrami, Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Portfolio Advisor
My name is Admir Bajrami and I work in Humanitarian Emergency Affairs as portfolio advisor for Middle East and Eastern Europe. My role is to ensure the quality and sustainability of World Vision programs, but is not limited to large scale emergency response deployments. One of the deployments included travel to Lebanon, where I had an opportunity to experience firsthand the quality of World Vision’s work and also the growing needs Syrian refugees.
I wrote a blog last year when Syrian refugee figures reached an alarming three million people. These figures are now at 4.2 million, dispersed across the Middle East, Europe and many parts of the world.
I am writing this letter with mixed feelings. First of all I would like to thank you for your continued support. Words can’t describe the difference your ongoing sponsorship donations make in the communities World Vision supports, particularly those most vulnerable like children, widows, elderly or those living with a disability. So thank you for all your generous support.
The mixed feeling is because I am also bearing the not so happy news from the region. The Syrian crisis has escalated and the numbers have drastically increased. One of the neighbouring countries of Syria is Lebanon, and they have accepted over one million refugees (close to 25% of their existing population), which has created additional pressure on the resources Lebanon already has.
These are somewhat crude facts. The word “complex” is underestimated when trying to explain the situation. I have personally struggled to understand the complexities. However, when I visited Lebanon and met with children that World Vision supports, I began to understand what it’s all about.
The political context vanished when I had children standing in front of me. One of them was a boy, aged seven. Just like my little nephew here in Australia, he had curious big eyes and a smile that could win any heart. Just like any child, he was hungry for childhood, love and support as he gets ready to embrace the world.
Unfortunately some children in Lebanon are not so lucky to have the protection of parents, family, neighbours, teachers, nurses or governments. They are on their own, or have to be left on their own. This is where you stepped in and helped with generous support, and on behalf of the communities in Lebanon, thank you.
I tried simplifying the circumstances through drawings that would help younger generation understand part of the challenge.
For example, the Dreib Al Awsat project has been operating because of your sponsorship since October 2012 and is based across 13 communities in a rural, mountainous region of northern Lebanon. This is one of the most impoverished regions of Lebanon, suffering from a high poverty rate, a struggling economy, an absence of tourism, and a neglected environment that is gradually succumbing to pollution and poor waste management.
In Lebanon, currently 73.1 percent of residents in the region of the Dreib Al Awsat project live on less than USD 107 per month, way below the average in Lebanon.
Now think of all the additional difficulties they experience as the number of vulnerable people in the area increased.