Jennifer Moorehead has served as Lebanon Country Director since August 2020 and has dedicated her entire 30+-year professional life to social justice and human rights, 20 years of which with Save the Children.
Beyond Lebanon’s Skyline
by Lebanon Country Director, Jennifer Moorehead
It is early evening in Beirut. Along the Corniche, hazy skies hang low above the Mediterranean. The sounds of bustling neighborhoods mingle with waves lapping at the rocky shore below. Soon, the streets will quiet as night falls and the city plunges into darkness.
I am incredibly fortunate to work here as Country Director for Save the Children’s Lebanon program, but this good fortune is tempered by enormous challenges. Every day, I work alongside inspirational colleagues, children, families, teachers and more to uphold children’s rights, and every day we all face what are at times seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
A collective sadness permeates the ranks of my Lebanese colleagues and friends. They feel as though this country – beautiful and rich in history – is no longer theirs. The Lebanon of today is so far from what it was just three years ago. The economic crisis is being felt by everyone, and millions are now in need of humanitarian support. I feel so much solidarity with our teams and the people we work with, carrying their fear and concern with me every day.
The simplest needs go unmet here. Most people only have access to an average of two hours of daily electricity. Even with a generator powering the building, my electricity supply shuts off three times a day. After sundown, the streets are so dark that it is nearly impossible to navigate them. Clean water is difficult – and expensive – to come by. These challenges affect all of us, but I am lucky to have a refrigerator that keeps my food from spoiling when the grid is down and options for potable water. So many do not have even these basic needs met.
Panning out from these specific challenges, you’ll see a nation in tailspin. The collapsed economy has devastated families and hit Lebanese children particularly hard. This is no longer a middle-income country with a refugee crisis; it is a nation teetering on the edge of failing, and we all feel the weight of that every minute of every day.
An entire generation of children lost their education, with some unable to attend school simply because transportation costs are too high. Lebanon’s already fragile supply chain, coupled with the government’s inability to import sufficient quantities of wheat that its people can’t pay for anyway, is thrusting families deeper into hunger every day. More children are facing grave harm including child labor and child marriage as families seek ways to cope. We are running out of time to understand the impact and implications of this engulfing crisis.
Shifting circumstances and uncertainty make it difficult to keep up with how our programming needs to transition to meet constantly evolving needs. We have to continuously adjust our aims to make sure we are reaching the right people and have the resources to do so. Flexible funding answers a lot of these problems, allowing us to reach more children and giving us the flexibility to understand where and how we need to respond.
So indeed, it is evening in Beirut, and the beauty of fading daylight over the ancient shoreline belies a truth among these streets as dark as the night ahead, but hope lies on the distant horizon like the glimmer of sunrise.
If you would like to support our work in Lebanon, we welcome your gift to the Children’s Emergency Fund – a flexible fund that enables Save the Children to respond to crises affecting children in Lebanon and around the world.
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