Had amazing day in Bekka Camp, taken by friends of Yousef (from Yarmouk Camp in Damascus). Appalling conditions, unbelievable poverty. People live in tiny shacks with metal or plastic sheeting for walls. UN has name emblazoned on the plastic but that is all it does. Broken concrete serves for pathways. some people have been here for years and have left academia and fancy homes. The children are clearly malnourished but like kids everywhere they have a remarkable resilience. It's hot now with little water or food and in a few months it will be snowing.
Enough of the tragedy, there is life in the camp. We spent some time in the bakery with Sophia and Lucy shaping flat bread with the women and watching it bubble on a big hot dome. Once cooked it was removed and filled with cheese or Za'atar (dried thyme), folded in half and slapped back on the dome with a sort of leather cushion. Sophia was a better baker than Lucy. (The bakery is an initiative set up to help women work as well as provide food for their family)
Later we went to another part of the camp where children had some fun playing games and drawing. For most it was the only time out of the camp in a year. There were two groups who went a few kms in a big van (including us with the first group). 40 children aged 6 to 11 were squeezed into the van! For the parents there is little relief.
There are several European groups who donate and send volunteers but mostly nothing happens. Those who reach the camps have to pay rent to local Lebanese landowners - if they can't pay they are evicted and have to live on the street. The Lebanese govt does little and support is from whatever aid can be found. Save the Children is the group that is held in highest regard.
Tomorrow we are being picked up plus the books and going to Shatila camp. Back to Bekaa next day.
BUT tonight we were taken out for a meal with every yummy dish known in Bekaa ... felt guilty but it was offered by those who work in camp.