Reaching the needs of the downtrodden and displaced was a central tenet of Jesus’ ministry while he walked on this earth. In the same spirit, a group from Weimar College, CA hosted by Middle East University (MEU), worked through the University Church Women’s Ministries (UCWM) Syrian Refugee Project in order to provide for the needs of Syrian refugees in Beirut.
The group of Weimar students and staff, members of the UCWM and students from MEU visited the Armenian Social Center in Bourj-Hammoud, Beirut, on Wednesday, March 13 at 4 p.m. The meeting with the Syrian refugees—many of who were of Armenian heritage—was organized with the help of a local social worker.
The group took some clothes that church members donated as well as basic food items. Additionally, the group from Weimar College brought about 25 care-packages with basic necessities like socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. There were about 43 adult refugees—40 of them women—and 20 children refugees under the age of ten who came to the meeting.
For about three hours short health lectures and basic health screenings for blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels as well as general physical fitness were provided to the refugees. Based on the information collected, some recommendations were given by the Weimar students and staff. After the health screenings were complete, people received Health books in Arabic and the basic care-packages were distributed.
Speaking about the aid work, Kate Podbrezsky—Coordinator of the UCWM Syrian Refugee Project and instructor of English at MEU—said, “It was wonderful to see how different people from different countries worked together in one spirit to promote love and care for the displaced individuals.”
Rosemary McKenzie, an American from the University Church (UC) Women’s Ministries organized games with the children. MEU Egyptian students—Ranya Azmy, David Rizk and Talat Fahmy—provided translation services between English and Arabic. Sylvia Kiraz, a Armenian-Lebanese staff member from MEU and member of the UCWM, wonderfully connected with the many Armenian-speaking refugees. Other MEU staff and UC members representing countries from South America and Europe were also there to help with the project. Everyone was ready to help in whatever way was needed and fill any role required.
As the coordinator of the UCWM Syrian Refugee project, Podbrezsky compiled a record of the requests presented by the refugees for follow-up. Plans are in the works to organize an on-going process of providing Syrian refugees with further care. These plans include not only tangible help such as clothing, food and toiletries, but also activities for children and adults. The UCWM continues to pray for God’s guidance on this matter as they endeavor to be Jesus’ hands in reaching those in need.
Written by Kate Podbrezsky, Sylvia Kiraz and Jason Lemon
Photos by Levon Kotanko