Bhersaf is found in Al Metn, in Mount Lebanon; a short journey from the capital, Beirut. Bhersaf is one of the most beautiful, mountainous, and serene parts of Lebanon. Yet there is also a dark side to the region.
After the 2006 war, much of the country was damaged. The 33-day war with Israel killed almost 400 children with hundreds more who were traumatised by the violence.
Recovering from war
After the war in 2006, Lebanon's economy was in shambles, and thousands had no homes to go to. Picking up the pieces was difficult because of a bankrupt government. In the areas far away from the main cities, not much progress was achieved.
The Lebanese economy is service-oriented and has managed to regain lost ground after the war. However, the gap between rich and poor remains strained. Corruption is rampant especially with the social security services. Many beneficiaries have not been paid since 2009.
Returning to normality in Lebanon has been made even more difficult by the war raging in neighbouring Syria. The political climate is extremely tense and investment in Lebanon has fallen. An estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees have poured into the country to escape the brutal violence they face at home. They join a large number of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees in the country and are placing great strain on an already over-stretched economy.
Children struggling in Bhersaf
With an average daily income of $4, many families in depressed areas like part of Bhersaf are struggling to feed their children and provide them with adequate protection against occasional violence.
The number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon includes 130,000 children in 12 refugee camps, tent towns, and shanty towns. The living conditions in these areas are very harsh with no proper sanitation, electricity, clean water, nutritious food, and security. The children are constantly exposed to danger and cannot safely go to school. The refugee children have no documentation which makes it difficult for them to be integrated into the system and gain access to social services and education.
How are we helping in Bhersaf?
SOS Children has been in Bhersaf since 1969 in the small town of Bikfaya, which is 30 km from Beirut. During the civil war, we were active in protecting children. This war, which lasted 15 years, took a great toll on the lives of the children and women who lost their fathers, brothers, or husbands.
Children who lost their parents were welcomed into our Children's Village in Bhersaf. Here they were placed under one of the SOS families’ care. Today, we care for over 100 children and ensure that they attend school, get regular health care, and are integrated into the local community.
As the children grow up and graduate from secondary school, SOS Children provides them with direction and counselling either on how to excel in higher education or learn additional work skills. The aim of SOS Children is to guide the young adults to making responsible decisions and pursue a bright future.
Strengthening local families
We also support the local community in Bhersaf. This includes training adults with work skills that will help them earn an income and providing services that help families stay together. In 2014 we supported more than 800 children from the local community and helped nearly 40 families set up their own businesses.
Growing up in a country that has known conflict can be difficult. For children in Lebanon who have lost a parent, we provide them with loving home in our Children's Village. Get to know one of these children by becoming a child sponsor today.