BEARING WITNESS TO DESTITUTION IN BEIRUT: BLANCHE’S STORY
As Lebanon remains mired in suffering six months after the Beirut blast, SAT-7 ARABIC amplifies the voices of those worst affected by the compounded crises. Through the story of one family who are homeless and hungry – and yet bolstered by their faith in Jesus – the channel has brought viewers together in prayer and support.
Blanche, a mother of five, shelters with her family in a laundry facility on the roof of a building in Beirut. Her husband lost his job and cannot find another one. Amid Lebanon’s recession and currency crisis, which has caused prices of essentials to skyrocket, Blanche finds it hard to feed her children, the youngest of whom is just 18 months old.
Blanche’s family is among thousands who remain destitute in Beirut after the blast that rocked the city six months ago. Although the majority of buildings have been repaired, many of these families have been unable to return to their buildings or secure a new place to live.
Blanche has no access to electricity. “Our fridge is disconnected. There isn’t even any food to put in the fridge anyway,” she says in an interview on SAT-7 ARABIC.
To survive, Blanche relies on provisions from friends, the Armenian Club, and the local church, who give her lentils, bread, fruit, and baby milk powder – when it is available. “Since I cannot afford milk or nappies for the baby, I rock her to sleep [instead of giving milk] and use towels instead of nappies,” she says.
Blanche’s toddler and her five- and eight-year–old children do not eat breakfast. They eat only one meal a day, in the evening, and she survives on any leftovers after they have finished. Unable to keep her family together, Blanche put her two eldest children, aged 12 and 18, in residential schools to ensure they are fed and have a place to sleep.
Until recently, Blanche also cared for her ailing father for months until he passed away from lung failure.
Amazingly, Blanche holds on to positivity and hope despite these difficulties. “I’m rich because I have my family,” she says. “My husband and children are blessings. Jesus doesn’t abandon anyone. He makes families happy.”
Blanche first shared her story on You Are Not Alone, which was created to offer a sense of solidarity and fellowship during the pandemic. After many viewers responded with messages of support for Blanche, her story was revisited during the channel’s Christmas special, Together Despite What Separates Us. Families from across the Middle East and North Africa took part in a live quiz during the special one-off program, with their shared “prize money” of US$500 donated to Blanche and her family.
With this donation, Blanche was able to buy milk, food, and nappies. “God bless you. Thank you for all that you did for us,” she said.
Maroun Bou Rached, Executive Director of SAT-7 Lebanon, expressed how important it is for SAT-7 to serve the society it is part of. “It may be a hard time for us all, but during the hard times, God’s blessings are abundant. It is also an opportune time to serve others. These times, from our perspective as Christians working in television, are the best times to work and serve more,” Maroun said.