Inside a tiny elementary school classroom, Georgette Abushahla has packed all of her life’s belongings. Three small sofas double as beds for her son, her husband and herself.
She told New York Times, “Right now, I don’t have a home because it was wrecked in the port blast,” referring to the explosion that destroyed Beirut’s harbour last August. “What can I say? I thank the almighty for what we have.”
Pans and pots sit idle on shelves meant for school magazines. She has no kitchen in the closed school and depends on Nation Station, a local charity, for the supplies of hot meals four times a week.
The organisation’s trendy and young volunteers zip around on green mopeds, knocking on the doors of their neighbourhood’s most vulnerable and neediest.
The 78-year-old Izzo greets her guests with a smile on her face and the hassle expected of a generous host.
“We have no power. I am sorry. I don’t have a generator. Kindly come in,” she said. Lebanon’s national grid is collapsing, leaving the poorest without electricity for hours each day.
“I tell them may God give them power. Knock on wood,” Izzo said while emphatically knocking on her table.
The co-founder of Nation Station, Josephine Abou Abdo, said the organisation began when she and her few friends started distributing donations from an abandoned gas station three days after the port blast. Now, eight months later, the gas station has been modified into a community kitchen that supports about 1,000 families.
About Abou explained that “We believed that slowly, slowly, after the blast the need would decline, but surprisingly, with the economic condition, the need actually increased.”
Lebanon is facing an economic crisis. Since 2019, people’s life savings are locked up in banks, and the country’s currency has lost over 90% of its value.