Donations go towards holiday dinners, gifts, medical insurance, and school tuition.
Since 2001 the small country of Lebanon has been a haven for Christian refugees. Lebanon has taken in about 1.5 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees, amounting to one third of the country’s population.
2019 saw Lebanon sink deeper into economic crisis, the weight of which led to the ousting of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, but as the country’s officials tackle the country’s debt crisis, the Saint Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy is turning its efforts toward helping their Christian guests.
On December 14, St. Rafka’s held a Christmas concert in which they provided 4,500 refugees with a Christmas dinner and handed out around 2,500 Christmas presents to the children. This gift and food drive, hosted by Beirut’s Chaldean Archbishop, Michael Kassargi also raised enough money to provide 100 families with emergency medical insurance, which CNA reports was organized through the Our Lady of Hope Medical Center in Beirut.
Fr. Andre Sebastian Mahanna spoke to CNA about the situations that most refugees struggle to overcome:
“In this Christmas season, adopt a family in your prayer. Pray for a family so that a father and a mother who cannot afford food at the table, who cannot afford medicine for their children or for themselves, they cannot afford the livelihood of paying rent, pray for their concrete livelihood,”
The “Adopt a Family” page of St. Rafka’s website informs that donations of any size are accepted. A $25 donation will feed a family on Christmas, a $50 donation provides a month of food and hygiene products, as well as a Christmas present for the kids. Donations $100 or more will be split up to help multiple families. Surplus donations will go towards medical insurance for families and school tuition as needed.
The Saint Rafka Mission of Hope explains on their website that they are a 501(c)(3) recognized by the Archdiocese of Denver and the U.S.C.C.B.
Fr. Mahanna explained that all donations will go to help the refugees, which will help take the economic burden of hosting as much as a third of their population in refugees. He described to CNA some of the troubles citizens have been facing when trying to access their bank accounts:
“The crisis has now drained the entire banking system, private investors cannot withdraw their money… The ATM machines are not giving money out to people, and you cannot go even to your own account and withdraw money more than let’s say $1,000 per month in some places $400 per month in other places.”
Although the December 14 concert/dinner has already passed, donations are still welcome as St. Rafka’s will continue to dole out Christmas charity into January, culminating in the Epiphany celebration, where they will distribute gifts at the Bird’s News Orphanage in Byblos, Lebanon on Jan. 6, 2020. CNA notes that some of the presents will also be sent to the orphans cared for by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and the Ephraimites Sisters in Harissa, Lebanon.
Fr. Mahanna hailed the efforts of the Lebanese congregants who have come together to aid their brothers and sisters in Christ. He told CNA:
“I’m so proud of the churches in Lebanon… They cook, they wrap sandwiches. We send as a Mission of Hope and Mercy on a monthly basis for the Christian refugees. We send 200 hygiene supply kits every month. We send 200 food boxes every month, and now for Christmas we send 2,500 Christmas gifts.”