Good morning everyone!
I have some very exciting news to share with you all! Zach and I have taken positions to work in Beirut, Lebanon for two years. We are going to be working with a development organization called Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Zach’s parents currently work with MCC in India (they are there another 2 years), Zach’s brother and sister-in-law did a 2-year term in Laos, and Zach’s sister did a 3-year term in Laos and also a 2-year term in Guatemala. All that to say, we are rather familiar with the organization and are very excited to begin our positions.
Because I am a Registered Dietitian, the organization kindly put together a position for me called Health and Refugee Program Assistant. For three days a week I will be working at a place called Our Lady Dispensary, which is a clinic and health education center in Beirut. This clinic serves refugees from Syria, vulnerable Lebanese, other at-risk families in the Beirut area. I will be using my skills to assist the Public Health Officer and Social Worker that are also at the clinic. While I do not know yet what my day-to-day activities will be, I believe I will be working with issues of food insecurity, nutrition education, and trauma support. To prepare me to work with these populations I will be starting my term with a 4-5 week language study course on Arabic. I have heard that this is a hard language to pick up but I hope that daily use will help me learn better.
The other two days a week I will be working with the Middle East Council of Churches and their efforts to bring assistance to Lebanon and Syria during the Syrian crisis. I will be assisting with grant and project proposal writing for current and new community health initiatives and Emergency Resource Shipments into Syria.
Zach will be in a role of his own, called a Projects Coordinator. Currently there are several (and the possibility of more) local projects aimed at helping Lebanon and Syria during the Syria crisis. Zach will be helping with the planning and evaluation of these projects. He will report on their progress and provide support for expansion and improvements as needed.
If you would like to read more about that crisis, there is more information at this link. There is a lot of work to be done in both countries currently with the crisis in Syria sending many refugees fleeing into Lebanon. Currently 1 in 4 persons in Lebanon is a refugee. As you can expect, Lebanon is struggling to provide enough resources for this influx and as a result also needs help. We are not currently allowed to travel into Syria but will be conducting work with local partners there via email. Our place in Beirut will be safe.
This is something that we have been talking about since we were dating – serving with MCC for a period of time. We believe this is really important work to do and we are so happy that we have this opportunity. Zach leaves in less than two weeks. I will be coming beginning of April. We have some of the details of our departure sorted out but please continue to think and pray for us – there is still much to be done on my end.
And to round out this long post I just wanted to let you know that I will continue to post on the blog. My posts will remain similar but be adapted to include information about our work in Lebanon so that friends and family can feel connected with us. There will be a good amount of travelling allowed for work and vacation as well, so stay tuned for some awesome pictures, Mediterranean food ideas, and workout suggestions!