When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings
— Irving Berlin (sung by Bing Crosby)
Car bombs in eastern Lebanon, street-fighting in Tripoli, one million refugees in a county of four million. With all that is happening here in Lebanon and the surrounding region, counting one’s blessings suddenly becomes really easy.
An intact family? Check. A roof over my head? Check. A good school for my children? Check. Adequate medical care? Check. Enough food for everyone? An abundance really.
I am family/shelter/education/health/food-blessed.
Fitting then, to share some of that abundance with the hunger-relief initiative foodblessed.
I first heard of foodblessed when my kids’ school organized a food drive for their benefit last spring. Foodblessed works in a number of ways to support hungry families and individuals:
- soup kitchens in Beirut that provide hot meals
- home delivery of meals to AIDS patients
- delivery of food boxes to Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese
The organization is entirely volunteer-operated, and when they put out a call for volunteers at the beginning of this year, I decided to join them at one of the soup kitchens not far from my home. Every Thursday I serve up rice and stew (or spaghetti with meat sauce, or traditional Lebanese dishes such as kibbeh) to somewhere between 25 and 40 hungry folks. Another volunteer hands out salad, another dessert, and one of the nuns from the church that lends the space for lunch hands out silverware and bread.
I’m happy to give an hour and a half of my time each week. As is typical when volunteering, I get much more than I give. I get the chance to practice my Arabic, to get to know lots of people (both clients and fellow volunteers) that I wouldn’t otherwise meet, and I get to feel like I am doing something, no matter how small, in the face of the ever-growing crisis for those in need in Lebanon.
April 12 is Global Day of Service, and my alma mater, Boston University, encourages its alumni to participate in a service event in some way during the month of April. There haven’t been service events anywhere I’ve lived in the past decade, so this year I decided to take matters into my own hands, and offered to be the volunteer event leader in Lebanon. I am now in the throes of a food drive, and on April 5, I will join with other BU alumni, our friends and families, to pack up food boxes for hungry families and individuals.
You may have already seen one of my appeals – via email, Facebook or Twitter. Forgive me if I’m being redundant. But I wanted to share a little more about what I’m doing and why. And if this post makes you think of your own blessings, take a minute to count them.
If you find that you have enough to go around, maybe you can consider sharing one:
foodblessed recently delivered 50 boxes of food to Syrian refugees outside of Arsal in northeast Lebanon, in a no-man’s land beyond where international agencies can safely travel.
Photo credits: Ruth Moucharafieh