The 2020 Beirut explosion is largely forgotten by the media but lives on in the daily struggles of the Lebanese people.
The explosion blew the lid off an already fragile government, where leadership abdicated their duties, saw inflation rise exponentially, and let COVID fester. Groceries, medicine, and other necessities are now luxuries – life has become almost impossible for those already suffering.
In early December, TOCCI raised $14,000 by matching generous contributions from staff. Before Christmas, Zeina Habib and Sally Akiki flew to visit family in Lebanon, bringing the money that was later distributed at homes of individuals identified with the greatest need and fewest resources. Sally and Zeina traveled separately to increase their outreach as they worked with representatives to connect with people in dire need.
Over 100 families received meal boxes (a one-month supply, including oils, tahini, lentils, and other nonperishables) and a cash equivalent of $37, allowing many to purchase food for a holiday celebration they did not expect. The gifts were received with astonishment and tears of gratitude: a father struggling with cancer, earning $50 a month, could cover medical expenses and 6 months of rent for his family of 6; an elderly couple could pay for their medication; a young woman’s school expenses were paid so she could find a better job; a three-generation family could eat for the next month, and more.
The aid and generosity of strangers left many families hopeful for a brighter future. Since 2017, TOCCI has supported relief and development in Lebanon through MERATH, an NGO that oversees direct service for the neediest.