Aid for the John Paul II Family Help Center in Lebanon
Project Code: 326-00-39
Lebanon is a country with an honorable mention in the Bible. King Solomon even sang the praises of its famous cedars (1 Kings 5:13). Jesus Himself walked the soil of today’s Lebanon, and it was here, too, that some of the earliest Christian communities were established. Yet, like most of the Bible lands, Lebanon is also a country that has suffered greatly. Again and again in the course of its history it has been the theatre of bloody conflicts. But it is above all its recent history that has been so soaked in blood. The brutal civil war of 1975 - 1990 cost 150,000 lives, with another 350,000 wounded and many hundreds of thousands forced to flee abroad for safety.
Since 2011, as a result of the civil war in neighboring Syria, the situation in Lebanon has become ever more critical. The violence has spilled over, and there have been clashes and acts of terrorism. In many places people live in fear of abductions and other violent attacks. On top of this there are immense social problems, since this small country, which itself has a population of roughly 4.4 million people, has now had to absorb at least 1 million Syrian refugees. The economic, social and political situation is becoming ever more difficult, as is the security situation, and many people are continuing to try and leave the country.
When Pope John Paul II visited Lebanon in May 1997, he had particular praise for the role of the women and mothers as "educators for peace" and "tireless partners in dialogue between the different groups and different generations." In his homily he prayed, "Spirit of God, pour out Your light and Your love into the hearts of the people, so that reconciliation may be achieved between individuals, within families, between neighbors, in the towns and villages and in the institutions of civil society!"
The family help center which bears the name of this great pope today was established in the year 2000 in the Maronite Diocese of Jounieh. It was the initiative of a Lebanese Marian movement that was begun in 1988 after is foundress witnessed the suffering of the families and of the women in particular. It was intended as an answer to the "great problems in our society, the problems within families, the cultural challenges, the economic, medical and educational problems which have resulted from the war, and the alarming increase in the number of couples separating."
Within a very short space of time the movement had met with recognition, and today there are many such counselling centers throughout the country, helping families to cope with their various problems, through therapy, pastoral counselling and material support. The John Paul II family help center now has a number of branches throughout Lebanon, where each year some 300 families and 70 individuals come seeking the support of its trained female social workers and numerous women volunteers. At the same time over 500 children and young people take part in the varied activities organized by these centers. Staff are given high-quality training at the international John Paul II training centers which are now established all over the world and which offer participants a university-level formation.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the pontifical council Cor Unum, has already urged us in previous years to support the work of the center. In 2012 he wrote to us as follows: "In view of the visit to Lebanon by the Holy Father Benedict XVI and as a sign of his sympathy and concern for the Lebanese people, who have suffered for years from war … We would be most grateful if ACN could financially support this project."
This year ACN is again supporting the work of the John Paul II center with a contribution of $9,800. Will you help us fulfill this promise to help this family center in Lebanon?
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