It’s been a long time since I last gave you news about this little boat shaken by the furious waves of the Lebanese crisis that is our hospital in Bhannes! Since last year, the situation has only worsened on all levels. The country is drifting without anyone to hold the helm! So, we try to compensate for this deadly absence by fighting against all odds to continue to offer a good quality of care to all the people who come to our center.
Throughout this year the devaluation of the Lebanese currency has only multiplied and today we are at 87000 LBP for a dollar while a year ago it was still at 20000 LBP for a dollar, and every day it is falling! Of course, the prices of all common materials have skyrocketed and are revised upwards with each increase of the dollar! Everything has become unaffordable: bread, water, electricity, gasoline, all basic food products, and diapers and baby formula are out of reach for many families etc.
Health care has become unaffordable for 85% of the population because health insurance requires payment in dollars and people do not have them, still receiving their salaries in Lebanese pounds. Most pharmaceutical and paramedical products are imported, so when you find them, they are overpriced! Moreover, corruption affects all classes of the population, products and different foodstuffs, as well as fuel, are put aside to raise prices…
Even the banks are taking the population hostage by going on unlimited strike!
The quality of life is plummeting and, as a consequence, the loss of youth and qualified people is intensifying, each one hoping to find elsewhere the possibility to build a future!
It is amid of these incredible circumstances that we are trying to hold on, but we are being hit hard by this crisis and especially by the massive departure of our qualified personnel to other horizons. As we are the only hospital in this mountainous region, we have many patients but unfortunately I cannot welcome them all because I am short of personnel and I had to close 2 services and reduce the turnover of 3 others!
As we are out of the way, it takes gas to get here and our staff often comes from far away. It is an additional difficulty to recruit even if we pay them the mileage difference compared to the official price of travel.
In spite of all this, and with the support of so many of you and an immense confidence in Providence, we manage to stay the course and look to tomorrow! Thus, we are rehabilitating a large part of the cultivable land in order to be able to enjoy organic and fresh vegetables and fruits directly from the garden to the consumer!
I was able to restart the hen house and our hundred or so hens are starting to give us good fresh eggs. As for the cows, they are growing well and multiplying, which allows me to produce more milk and its by-products for all our patients, our staff and the people of the village who come to buy from us because it is cheaper and fresher than in the supermarkets! Thanks to the great support of our Company, we have been able to install solar energy which allows us to save a lot of fuel that I can put back into the salaries of the staff!
We have also started to restore one of our houses to accommodate our staff who come from far away. In fact, outside the center itself, we have 5 buildings that date back to the beginning of the sanatorium, more than a hundred years ago, in which families are housed, at least one of whom works for us. There are still several apartments that need to be renovated so that they are really habitable. I still count on Providence to do this.
Thanks to some donations, we were also able to replace two of our generators that were dying! Here we have to use them 23 hours a day because we only receive public electricity one hour a day! So we need several generators to power the different buildings.
Every month I also try, thanks to the support this year of the Pontifical Mission, to improve the salary and the living and working conditions of all the staff. But costs are increasing at such a rate that we cannot keep up with the real gap!
Of course, in order to maintain in the hearts of all this Hope that we need so much, we have revitalized the spiritual dimension of our life, our mission and our reason for being. Regular spiritual animations of various kinds take place either for the staff or for the sick and particularly during the strong times of the year! After all, it is HIM, Our Lord, the source of our life, our energy and our commitment! And fortunately He is there even if sometimes we have the impression that He is sleeping like in the boat of the apostles on the lake of Galilee!
My goal and my hope is to be able to continue to keep this ship afloat so that all the people who draw their income from it can continue to live decently and so that the sick people of the region are not obliged to travel an hour to go to hospital! For this we try to put all our capacities and potential into action but I can only do it by counting on you! Thank you for the patience you have shown to read this to the end! May God keep you and bless you!
Sister Elisabeth Noirot, DC
(To support Sister Elisabeth’s hospital, please visit her project currently being financed).