The Solidarity and Development Secretariat of the De La Salle Christian Brothers has launched a worldwide appeal to assist three Lasallian schools affected by the recent explosions in Beirut as well as provide humanitarian relief.
August 4, 2020 was a day of horror for the residents of Beirut. A devastating explosion, hyper-fueled by the combustion of very large ammonium nitrate stockpiles, exploded violently in the city’s seaport. The explosion, which was detected by the United States Geological Survey as a seismic event of magnitude 3.3, was heard in Cyprus more than 160 mi away. It is considered to be one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions in history.
The Provincialate and three Lasallian schools in the city center, Collège Notre Dame, École Saint Vincent de Paul, and Collège Sacré-Cœur – Frères Gemmayzé were severely damaged. The latter school, being closer to the port suffered the greatest impact. Damage to the three building is estimated to be over $3 million USD.
This disaster comes at an extremely challenging moment for the country. During the past several years, the social situation in Lebanon has been deteriorating due to the longstanding and bloody war in neighboring Syria. As enormous numbers of refugees have flooded Lebanon, their presence has caused social and financial crises, fueling public unrest. Inflation is running at more than 50% and almost 200% for food. Half the country now lives below the poverty line, and it is estimated that three-quarters may need aid by year’s end. With almost 25% of the country’s population now comprised of Syrian refugees, the country’s dysfunctional government has been paralyzed for months.
Then Covid-19 arrived to overburden an already fragile system. The present disaster is the classic “straw which broke the camel’s back.”
Christian educational institutions in Lebanon have a value that goes far beyond their being centers of educational excellence. The presence of these institutions is vital for the maintenance of the precarious socio-political-religious balance of Lebanon because it is the only Middle Eastern country where various religions peacefully coexist. If schools close, the emigration of Christians and other minorities would accelerate exponentially. It is critical to recognize that a Lasallian presence in the region goes far beyond the simple fact of having schools. We are vital peacemakers in our schools, among our families, and throughout the country. As such, our local presence serves as an essential link to regional peace.In our global, interconnected world, what happens in the Middle East affects all of us. As such, we ask your support in joining with La Salle International to provide funds which will serve two purposes (1) repair Lasallian schools and (2) provide humanitarian relief to the people of Beirut.