Meals for Syrian Refugee Children: Lebanon (MSRCL)
by Franklin Lamb
March 26, 2016
War in Syria since 2011 has not only devastated a previously prosperous and peaceful country, but has bled it of its vital force - its children. More than 25 000 Syrian youngsters have been killed and maimed; boys, and sometimes girls under age 15 have been forced into active combat, while more than half of the others have been exposed to siege with thousands facing malnutrition or starvation.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, more than 1.5 million refugees have crossed into Lebanon seeking safety and shelter, of which more than 79% are women and children. According to UNHCR, close to 425,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are aged between three and 14 years old. Many are orphans whose parents and other family members were killed by aerial bombing, others were separated from their families in the chaos of the exodus, some are totally alone, others have fled with their siblings.
Some have been rescued by families who have added them to their own children, most are homeless and do not have access to any form of education despite Lebanon’s Ministry of Education’s commitment to increase the capacity of schools to welcome up to 200,000 Syrian children into night school shifts. Even when implemented, it will only account for half of all school-aged Syrian children in Lebanon.
The Homeless Refugee Children of Beirut washed up by the tide of war in Beirut, dozens of these waifs and strays beg and sell chewing-gum or roses along the Mediterranean shore at Ramlet al-Baida, the only free beach, where Syrian refugees, Palestinians from the three Beirut area camps and displaced from the Yarmouk neighborhood in Damascus, as well as “foreign domestic slave workers” swim, wash themselves and their families’ clothes, picnic, or play football/volleyball. These countless street kids are prey to physical and/or psychological violence, child labour, exploitation (notably forced prostitution), child trafficking diseases (once nearly eradicated polio, hepatitis A, measles and leishmaniasis have returned), and above all, malnutrition.
An urgent need of these street children without families is safe places and nutritious food: according to UNICEF, one hearty nutritional daily meal for these children can miraculously reduce many of these and other illnesses, as well as end rampant malnutrition.
Meals for ‘‘Syrian’’ Refugee Children
In the context of acutely overtaxed NGOs and the bailing out since September 2015 by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) of providing food vouchers to more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, owing to lack of funding, the nondenominational Meals for Syrian Refugee Children: Lebanon (MSRCL) Initiative is launched by a group of international private individuals.
The project is entirely staffed by volunteers with the exception of hiring two Syrian refugee women as supervisors of the distribution of meals. We believe MSRCL should be a humanitarian effort of Syrians, to feed Syrian refugee children, and administered largely by Syrian refugees to the extent practicable and with support from internationals.
The vision of Meals for Syrian Refugee Children: Lebanon (MSRCL) is to assure that every refugee child from Syria in Lebanon (Syrian, Palestinian, Moslem, Christian,Yazidi, Kurd or other) has access to a hearty nutritional midday meal, everyday of the week, from a meals distribution centre at Ramlet el-Baida beach in Beirut. Without these much needed meals, their daily well-being is dramatically harmed daily and their lives are at risk.
Daily meals, designed by the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the American University of Beirut will be prepared daily from 6am by a chef/experience cook and student helpers in a large kitchen near Ramlet el-Baida beach, the use of which is donated by the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship.
Program (SSSP), the fruit and vegetables being purchased at cut price from the Beirut Central Wholesale Market, the 175 vendors of which employ 50 Syrian children.
A typical meal might be Moujaddara which consists of cooked lentils together with bulgur, generally rice, and garnished with sautéed onions, beans, spaghetti with vegetables, mashed potato, black beans, eggplants, salad, and fresh uncooked vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, small tomatoes etc, and fresh seasonal fruit.
Each plate will include a tasty main dish with fresh vegetable, one loaf of bread, one piece of fruit, a fresh salad, a sweet and a bottle of water. The meals would be packed as below in sanitary disposable containers with plastic fork and spoon. Examples of meals in preparation and ready for street delivery are below showing bread, main course, salad and fruit.
The prepared meals will be delivered by contract with a taxi company daily at noon at the main entrance to Ramlet el-Baida beach. The distribution will end at 1.30 pm.
A ‘‘meal distribution test’’ at Ramlet el-Baida beach was conducted on 19 March 2015: the 80 lunches shown below were put in the hands of Syrian children. They were gratefully received like hotcakes! And disappeared in about 20 minutes!
Financing Meals for Syrian Refugee Children
$ 2.25 per meal will cover the cost of the purchase of menu food items, meal preparation, packaging items including Styrofoam containers, plastic wrap, utensils, delivery transportation, distribution, site clean-up, two Syrian refugee mothers on duty two hours per day at the distribution site to counsel and gather information on special needs cases from the children to share with NGOs working with Syrian refugee children and who might be willing/able to offer the children follow-up assistance or case management.
There are up to 800 homeless or critically needy children in the Ramlet al-Baida and dowtown area of Beirut alone. Initially, however, 500 meals will be served, stepping up to 800 as funding hopefully increases.
Gathering them in safe ‘‘homes’’ cared for by Syrian ‘‘mothers’’ is also our ultimate aim, once they are fed nutritiously and have been checked medically. At $2.25 per meal x 500 children per day ($ 1,225), the budget for a month (30 days) would require approximately $36,000. For this reason we may be obliged, at least initially, to distribute a smaller number and perhaps not on all seven days of week. But our goal is every day of each month depending on how well we can organize and interest citizens and associations to partner with us.
Donors committing on a one-time basis or on a regular basis a specific number of meals, for instance 10 ($ 25), 100 (thus $ 225) or even 500 ($ 1,225) would be particularly appreciated, as such commitments would create a secure financial basis.
All donations will be immediately receipted and our accountant will regularly issue financial status reports. We are committed to complete transparency.
Not a ‘‘lost generation’’
Thanks to humanitarian aid, such as Meals for Syrian Refugee Children: Lebanon, the lament describing these children as a ‘‘lost generation of Syrian children’’, which is frequently repeated by the media and some UN agencies, will be disproved. Given their strong family heritage, fervent wish to return to Syria and look for any family that remains, culture, spirit, hope, goodness, intelligence they can be salvaged along with their generation. They are not yet lost and they will not be lost if we can help them to be fed, safe, healthy and schooled.
Meals for Syrian Refugee Children: Lebanon (MSRCL)
First Floor, Fawaz Building Abbas Mousawi Street, Haret Hreik, Beirut
Contact persons: Franklin Lamb, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jennie Walton (email@example.com)
Khalid Sadiq (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beirut mobile: +961-71-899-164
Syria Mobile: +963-940-448-625
How to Partner with us and make a Meal Donation Checks/Cheques or Wire transfers to the Organization ‘‘Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace’’ (ACMEP), indicating ‘‘Meals for Syrian Children: Lebanon’’ Initiative.
Regarding our US IRS Tax deduction status for Partners who would like to support our initiative (IRS tax free ID Number (503 c (3) status), the IRS taxpayer identification number for Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace and our Meals for Syrian Refugee Children: Lebanon, is 46-4491642.
PNC Bank, Reston, Virginia
The bank account number is 5341658014.
Routing number: 054000030. Swift Code: PNCCUS33
ACMEP’s Washington DC address:
1575 Autumn Ridge Circle, Reston, VA 20194.
Contact person: Michael Maloof, (email@example.com)
Crédit Libanais SAL
Haret Hreik Menchieh Branch
Haret Hreik Menchieh Street-Dabaja Building
Tel. No. +961 - 01-556-781 or +961 - 01-5560-728.
Account No. 067-58573 2008
IBAN Code LB91005300CEUSD006758573 2008
SWIFT Code: CLIBLBBX