Date of publication: 17/01/2020

Lebanon, 160 years of charity

Council General International

Neither war, nor political and economic crises have stopped the work of the SSVP in Lebanon. For 160 years, our fellow members have continued their effective care of the poorest people in their country. We offer a picture of their work here, through an account of the visit which the President General, Renato Lima, made there in the first week of the year. 

From 2 to 7 January, the SSVP President General visited Lebanon. He spent his time mainly in Beirut and its surroundings.

SSVP Lebanon was founded in 1860, and currently has 50 Conferences, 8 Particular Councils and 13 special works. Historically, the Lebanese SSVP is closely linked and twinned with SSVP France.

The President General experienced the very varied, worthwhile work of the SSVP in Lebanon, continuing through the turbulent political and economic situation in the country which seriously impacts the lives of the poorest people in the country. SSVP Lebanon, with Paul Kallassi as its president, looks after elderly people in its care homes, supports the education of children in its learning centres, helps to maintain camps for refugees (most of whom come from Iraq and Syria), manages farming projects and health centres…

For instance, they have a sustainable honey production project, which sells its produce at holiday times, or to businesses associated with the catering sector, the profits being used for many needy families. They have also set up Mobilab, a mobile medical unit which provides consultations and clinical analyses for the poorest areas of Beirut. One of the “patients” for this Mobilab was the President General himself, who tested the efficiency of the service first hand, as he underwent several medical tests, together with other patients from the area.

As usual on his visits, the President General met the Apostolic Nuncio and various bishops from the area, as well as the representatives of the Vincentian Family branches in the country. He also met the young Vincentians in Lebanon, whom he described as “a united group, motivated and truly committed to the mission and values of the SSVP”.

At the Jubilee Ceremony for the 160th anniversary, the Holy Father’s Apostolic Blessing was given, and the “rebuilding lives” project introduced, aimed at restoring the Church of St Vincent de Paul Beirut (destroyed by bombing in the 1990s, in the civil war across the country) and building a social centre alongside it.

Finally, the President General, Renato Lima, visited the tomb of the former President General of the SSVP, an example of a Vincentian life and commitment, Amin Abouhamad de Tarrazi. The visit was made alongside Jean-Michel de Tarrazi, Amin’s nephew.