The situation in Lebanon, already unstable from the socio-economic point of view, worsened further after the explosion in Beirut. The population was faced with both the consequences of that terrible episode and the progressive increase in cases of Covid-19. In light of this, the Salesians have decided to postpone traditional activities until the Government allows the normal course of social meetings and gatherings to resume. At the same time, the Salesians have provided concrete help to the most vulnerable people through the donation of food and basic necessities and establishing a scholarship for the children of the families most affected by the pandemic. It was also decided that for the 2020-2021 school year, the School of Technical and Vocational Training will mainly provide online lessons to minimize the risk of infection for both students and teachers.
Support for the neediest families was not lacking even in Egypt, where the Salesian Family responded with the usual distributions of food and hygiene kits. Here, around 30 families also received additional support through small amounts of money to cover basic expenses such as rent, electricity and water. The management of the Salesian institutes in Cairo and Alexandria then decided to respond to the needs of the most disadvantaged families of enrolled students by offering scholarships and reduced school fees for the 2020-21 school year.
Similar measures have also been taken in Bethlehem and Nazareth, both of which have been hit hard by the lockdown imposed to counter the spread of the virus. In Bethlehem, students of the Salesian Technical School in difficult socio-economic conditions can be helped with full or partial scholarships. At the same time, an intensive formation course is being offered for all teachers on the methodologies and tools of digital teaching. The situation in Nazareth is more difficult, where schools have been closed since 23 September and all educational activities must be carried out remotely.
Meanwhile, the conditions in Syria remain dramatic. At the end of June, with the apparent decrease in the Covid-19 infection rate, the Salesians decided to reopen their centers in Aleppo and Damascus to relieve the psycho-social stress of families and children. Unfortunately, during the month of August, a new wave of infections hit the country and many people were affected, leading to a new closure of the centers. The Salesians, however, remained focused on the needs of Syrian families and developed a double intervention: an economic one, to help those who have lost their sources of income, and an educational one, so as not to leave the children and young people who are experiencing learning problems alone.