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Image AddedWhile on temporary assignment to ESCWA, Beirut, Senior Management Analyst and Ramp Up Team Lead for Umoja Cluster 4, Joe Lombardo wanted to use any downtime assisting Syrian refugees living in informal camps in Lebanon. Lombardo, with help from his wife, utilized social media fundraising site GoFundMe, raised more than $4,000 that was able to aid over 100 people by distributing blankets and winter jackets, direct monetary assistance, and paying a hospital for a three year old boy’s urgent operation.

Collaborating with contacts locally and at UNHCR, Joe along with the newly arrived ESCWA Director of Administration, Mr. Pontus Molin, Administrative Officer Mrs. Zorana Maltar, interns Ms. Amal Al-Rifai and Mr. Jihad Taha as well as independent contractor Ms. Yasmine Ossaily were able to supply 29 children and teens from nine families with coats, and warm blankets for the families to prepare for the oncoming winter. The families all live in an informal settlement in the Sidon District and are all extended relations of one family, from Idilb, Syria. These refugees—mostly women and children under the age of ten, receive no formal assistance whatsoever. When available, the few men work as day labourers in local agriculture, but this income is both unsteady and insufficient for meeting basic needs.

The Lebanese NGO and UNHCR partner, Makhzoumi Foundation, worked with the group and provided transportation and socials workers to assist.  The Foundation shared the 10 most at risk families in their files from the Beirut area.  The group of UN colleagues was able to distribute direct monetary assistance of $200 for each family and to cover the costs of an urgent operation for a three-year-old boy who had been in a car accident.

Within this small group of refugees alone, in Sidon District, and the ten families in Beirut, there are severely disabled children, survivors of rape and other violence who still endure lasting traumatic effects. For those parents who can find work, none earns enough to pay for the necessary and ongoing medical care their respective family members require, let alone the basic costs of caring for their children. There are no toys for children, no heat and no access to formal education for those of age. While tuition is free, the cost of transportation and logistics involved in safely getting children to school have put school beyond these refugees’ reach. The family of the one child previously able to go to school can no longer afford it, and, at 17 years of age, one young mother has never been to school. 

The work to continue to assist the refugees will continue through the GoFundMe site with the colleagues in ESCWA. 

Follow this link to make a donation:  http://bit.ly/202Cm46