We've been supporting Habitat for Humanity Lebanon with their content strategy since 2019 after a week-long trip there which resulted in 5 different short documentaries, a dozen short social media videos complemented by as many articles and hundreds of photos. Enough content for 6-9 months really.
The below is the story of one of the families we've covered for them as part of our video production services.
How are you reading this article?
Maybe you’re on your mobile phone while you’re commuting to your job. Perhaps you’re taking a break during the day to read something other than work emails. Or you might be snuggled in bed being warmed by the glow of your screen of choice.
Whichever way you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you have a roof over your head. We can take this shelter for granted sometimes. It stops the sun from beaming down on us and protects us when it’s cold. A roof also prevents the rain from getting in your house.
But what if you didn’t have a roof to protect you? Or what if it couldn’t protect you from the rain? Sadly, there are people in the world that experience this. While there is some shelter above their head, when it rains outside, it rains inside too.
Waking Up with a Roof on Top of You
Picture a small family in Lebanon crammed into a tiny house. It wasn’t their house. A friend had let them occupy the place for free.
One night, it began snowing. For many people, this is an opportunity to go outside and play, have snowball fights, or build a snowman. But for this family, they were in distress. The snow had caused the roof to collapse. The house came down on top of them.
The home was deemed uninhabitable. So, they had to find somewhere else to stay.
Turning to Family for Help
The family packed up what they could and stayed at their dad’s father’s house. Originally the house was rented out to someone else. But this was an emergency situation, and the tenant was asked to leave.
After a few days, the grandfather started charging rent. There was no family discount. The fee was 250,000 LL a month. It wasn’t a good deal as the roof was essentially a cloth that was kept down with tires and pallets. Underneath was a thin tin roof.
As you can imagine, when it rained, water would trickle throughout the house. It was freezing when it was snowing. If there were sunlight, it would just dry the sheet.
But the family was grateful. They were surviving.
Live to Work and Work to Live
The father knew that if he could work, then the family would be able to manage. Unfortunately, it’s not easy for him to get work.
Ten years ago, the father had an accident where a truck he was driving rolled over. The incident broke both of his legs. He needed an operation, and thankfully he’s still walking today courtesy of a rod and nails in his leg.
The doctors told him that he shouldn’t be working. He especially shouldn’t be doing manual labor and lifting heavy objects.
But he does what he needs to do so he can provide for his family. He doesn’t get help from anyone in his family—even his own father.
No job is beneath him. He uses a machine to clean sewers. He will use it to clean up other people’s waste. In a month, he’ll make 622,000 liras, which is approximately $US400. He’s not able to earn any more than that.
Sometimes his wife will work as a housekeeper. This brings in approximately 25,000 liras a day. But she can only get enough work for one or two days a week.
Adding Up the Costs: Lebanon's Housing Crisis
622,000 liras go pretty quickly in Lebanon. The family pays 250,000 in rent. There’s also a generator subscription to provide electricity to the home.
Both of the children are in school, and there are expenses that need to be paid even for a public school education. The family also needs to pay for them to ride the school bus.
When the Rain Stopped
Habitat for Humanity quickly identified some areas they were able to fix for the family. They began with the kitchen sink and the taps. The shower, water heater, and bathroom sink were also repaired.
The workers for Habitat for Humanity Lebanon were also able to fix windows and some of the doors that were broken. These were damaged due to the water from the rain dripping down the walls.
Their youngest daughter was impressed that she can now go and wash her hands when they get dirty. It was something she was never able to do. She couldn’t even take a shower.
Previously, she would have to fill a large bucket with water, take off her clothes, and jump into it to clean herself. Prior to even having a shower, she had to fill a saucer of water and splash it over herself.
They’re Not the Only Ones
Before Habitat for Humanity Lebanon stepped in, this family was constantly in and out of the hospital. Now they’re living a healthier life, and all of the upgrades in their home aren’t even complete yet. More work is scheduled, and soon the family won’t ever need to worry about the rain entering their home again.
It’s estimated that approximately 55% of the population in Lebanon lives below the poverty line with over a third living in extreme poverty - that is lacking the most basic necessities like running water and/or electricity. The situation has worsened, particularly after the explosion in Beirut, which killed 178 people, injured over 6,500 locals, and left more than 300,000 people homeless.
But like this family, the people will survive. However, they need your help.
Habitat for Humanity believes everyone in the world should have a decent place to call home. That’s why they strive to build, rebuild, renovate, and rehabilitate houses for families in need across Lebanon and the 70+ countries where they work. With their supporters, they help make sure that every family can have a decent place to live without getting wet from the rain.