RESPONDING TO VULNERABLE GROUPS FACING FURTHER CHALLENGES
As several countries around the world are easing restrictions, COVID-19 cases are increasing in some Middle East countries like Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. SAT-7 is responding to the needs of many vulnerable groups facing increasing challenges as the pandemic continues.
Despite previous easing of restrictions, both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia have reinstated a lockdown to curb increasing infections.
It is clear that across the world, the consequences of the pandemic will last long after the lockdowns are eased. People across the Middle East and North Africa are facing the hardships and challenges that they have always faced and yet now they are also living with the anxiety of the pandemic, and the economic consequences of the lockdown.
The lockdown has left many vulnerable groups exposed to further hardships that are making life increasingly challenging now. Vulnerable groups such as refugees, people with mental health problems, domestic violence victims, and millions of daily wage workers are uncertain for their future.
SAT-7 programs are creating awareness of these vulnerable people and providing support where they can.
SAT- 7 ARABIC’s program You are Not Alone, is a pre-recorded program produced as part of SAT-7’s response to the pandemic. Created to connect with viewers during lockdown, the program has helped a daily wage worker and her family survive their dire circumstances.
Abdel, from Syria, has been living as a refugee and on the move with his family since 2012. The program team asked him, as a parent, how fearful he was for his children. “Before the coronavirus it was 100 percent and now with the virus it is 200 percent. We were always worried about their education but now we fear for their health. I don’t know where I would go if any of them got sick,” he said.
Abdel has no work. No one has gone to disinfect the tents where they are living, and they have had no medical crews check in on them. As much as they can, they stay inside their tents as the option to socially distance just doesn’t exist in the refugee camp.
More recently, You are not Alone spoke to Sonia, a Lebanese taxi driver and mother of two sons both sick – one with cancer and the other with epilepsy – who called in to the program to share her struggles during the pandemic lockdown.
Since Sonia is the main bread winner of her family, she put her health at risk during the pandemic to provide for her family. Having no internet at home, she used her neighbour’s computer and Skype to call and share her story on the program.
After seeing Sonia’s interview, Father Magdy Alawy, founder of Heavenly Joy Association in Lebanon, sent Sonia and her family supplies.
On SAT-7 PARS flagship live program Signal, Iranian viewers responded by the hundreds to share how much prayer support was helping them in the face of further economic challenges
“We are grateful for the prayer you shared – truly these days we need prayer so that we can be strengthened. Really, what would we do if we didn’t have Jesus Christ?” shared one viewer named Lale. “We are watching people who are in so much pain, anxiety and anger. My husband is a street vendor and currently has no work. We don’t even have any loose change. But we are living in faith and we have never been left in need. We are praying for everyone else.”
Other challenging needs such as safety from domestic violence and treatment from depression aren’t immediately addressed due to lockdown restrictions.
Counsellor Jessy Tohme spoke on SAT-7 program From Heart to Heart encouraging viewers to help their families in their need and not downplay their frustration.
“Some people reach a point where they cannot deal with the increasing pain of underlying issues and failures they faced in their lives. People aren’t able to think right and there’s no guidance for them. No one can help the other because everyone is drowning. The number of calls to hotlines reporting abuse and seeking help are now 200 percent higher than before with Coronavirus and economic problems in Lebanon. We must be aware when others are going through frustration, anger, depression and to help them because many are unable to help themselves,” Tohme says.
Join us in prayer for those vulnerable groups whose lives are insecure as the pandemic continues.