Thursday, August 27, 2009

At the camp

First day in Lebanon we got a tour of downtown Beirut. So many ruins all around from the war in the eighties. Bullet holes still in the structures although some have been resurfaced or restored where necessary. Homes still in ruins on the hill sides. The history here is both amazing and intriguing. If you are interested, check out the war details at

So after an amazing speedy drive through traffic with no lights, no lane markings, with a million vehicles scampering two ways, sometimes four, we made it to the crest of the Lebanon Mountains where we could see the Bekaa Valley spread out for miles running north and south in front of us. Syria to the east, Israel to the south. Matthieu explains to us along the way all of the internal and external strife that still exists and lays percolating just below the surface.

As we get down into the valley we get to the town of Saadnayel and having passed through it we came to a little community on the outskirts, a Bedouin tribe. As we drive down the road toward the camp we see a few kids, maybe 6, playing in the ditch alongside the road. The ditch has a little water and then some garbage floating on the top. They all stand up and with curious smiling faced they check us out as we pass by.

We pass more kids, they seem happy and content with their lot.

Once inside the compound we are greeted by the chief, and given the royal tour of his compound which includes a community centre ( a room where chapel can be head), washrooms that needed some TLC, okay, a LOT of TLC, and 5 school rooms for the children, whose school year begins near the end of September. We receive some tea that is loaded with sugar, and then a second course of very strong coffee. A coffee that tasted something like I’ve had before in Jamaica. (I’ve had a few cups now and I think it’s growing on me!)

Then to the roof. From there you can see the camp and the many types of housing structures that are used. Some are tin shelters, and then a few sheds that are covered with large canvases or tin, anything to stop the rain during the winter season. A few goats and cows spot the camp and then of course is the widespread impact of sewage running freely throughout the camp. A trough was built some time ago, but it overflows into the land where the kids play and the homes are erected. Remember the picture of the kids playing in the ditch with a little water and garbage? Well, the water is not all water. We see the farmers, (not the Bedouins) watering the crops at the outskirts of the camp and we are thinking that we could just drill some wells for water. But we were informed that the tests showed that even out that far the water is contaminated and no good for consumption. Many of the men have a job working for minimal wages to bring home to the family. From what I can tell, work is very important to them. The majority of the camp is Muslim with a few believers mixed into the group. We serve them all when we will begin working on the classrooms and bathrooms.

These people are lovely and gracious. I am fighting to remember their names correctly, but will keep trying. My mind is on major intake right now as I consider all that is happing here in the camp and with my friend Matthieu. I trust that as I learn about life and God’s heart within this environment, God will use me in some small way.


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