Zoia is 58 years old, with heart problems, osteoporosis and a whole set of complications. She recently underwent her third operation. Without Dr Elias’s medication, “I would be dead,” she says crying as we enter her small living quarters. Seeing Dr. Elias, Zoia is immediately moved, throws herself to embrace him and never stops thanking him. Doctor Elias, although he should be used to this reaction from his patients long ago, is clearly embarrassed. Sitting next to Zoya is her ailing 80-year-old mother. She doesn’t stop hugging the doctor either. She also gets some essential medicines from him. Zoia’s husband, on the other hand, has bad lungs. At his side stands an oxygen concentrator also donated by Adventure of Charity, an initiative set up by the doctor years ago.
Me, my husband and my mother are now supported by my daughter and son. Both of them earn 135 USD (513 PLN)”, says Zoia. – There is no such thing as a pension system in Lebanon. Nobody gets money when they are no longer able to work. The elderly are taken care of by the family, but how can you support yourself and your ailing parents when the exchange rate of the local currency is skyrocketing and your salary is suddenly only 50 USD (190 PLN)?
During the meeting in Zoya’s flat, we have no doubt that the doctor’s dedication to obtaining medicines, which the country is suddenly short of due to the crisis, is the last resort for Zoya and her family. It is the only chance to fight the disease and stay alive.
We return with the doctor to his office. He invites us into a small flat. This is where he operates from with seven other volunteers. He shows us meticulously kept patient files and lists of medicines that each patient should be taking. The medicines include antibiotics, hypertension and diabetes medication, but also completely basic supplements such as vitamins, probiotics and painkillers. On a shelf in the office there are medicines ready for dozens more people. Each pack has been fought for with the greatest effort, so they are regarded as the greatest treasure here. “We give our patients help discreetly, in a gift bag. In addition to medicines, we try to give everyone what they need. Increasingly, these are also groceries, cleaning products and personal hygiene products. We deliver medicines and items to everyone in need at home so that they are not embarrassed and do not have to ask for anything. Access to medical treatment and basic hygiene products is absolutely fundamental and something that everyone should have access to,” explains Elias.
It is difficult to understand the situation of the Lebanese people based on data alone, because these data have no face. The 400% increase in food prices in two years, the 90 percent loss of value of the Lebanese pound, or the poverty already experienced by 80 percent of the population, are just numbers. However, you only have to look into the eyes of Zoia, her family and all the other of Dr Elias’ patients to understand the dramatic situation the Lebanese people are in today. It is for them that we have built another Good Factory in Jounieh, a dozen or so kilometres from Beirut.
A fundraiser is underway on our foundation’s homepage. We are very keen for you to stand shoulder to shoulder with us and help respond to the needs of people who, without supplies of medicine, food and essential products, will not survive the next months. Spread news about our new project in Lebanon.
What is needed? Most obviously medicines. Buying the ones that are still available in the country forces Dr. Elias to find about 4-5 thousand dollars a month. This is difficult, because those who used to help him by donating are now asking for help themselves. That’s why you, dear fellows of the Good Factory, are needed so much in this project!