Renewable energies to stop the economic crisis in Lebanon

Thirty kilometers north of Beirut, in Lebanon, far from the chaos of the capital, stands the Mar Nohra Monastery of the Antonian Maronite Order. A place of worship, abandoned for centuries and then renovated a few years ago, whose walls exude history and spirituality, and where the monastic community, now stable and fertile in new vocations, lives in perpetual harmony with Creation.

Mar Nohra, near the better known shrine of Our Lady of Harissa, dominates the surrounding landscape from a hill of 600 meters and extends, looking at the Mediterranean Sea, over a land of 23 hectares completely covered with oaks, pines and cedars, with a cultivated as a vegetable garden. Many animal species have found their habitat here and spend their days undisturbed next to man. Seeing it like this, it would seem like a happy and above all “green” oasis, but every medal has its reverse and this monastery too is suffering the effects of the heavy economic crisis that has hit the country since 2019. In the year preceding the covid-19 pandemic, the Lebanese currency lost more than 90 percent of its purchase value. The economic meltdown – one of the worst in the world since 1850 – resulting from political instability and perennial conflicts, has reduced about four million families to poverty. And as the economy crashes, prices of basic necessities skyrocket, due to 138 percent inflation, leaving more and more people faced with the choice between paying rent or buying food. , water and medicines to live on. Among other drastic measures, the government has opted for the rationing of gas, electricity and in some places even drinking water, allowing the population only one hour of electricity a day.

Even the Monastery suffers from this condition and the friars are forced to buy electricity from the private managers of the current generators who, however, now have to deal with the lack of diesel and the exorbitant increase in its cost on the market, as well as with the maintenance costs of the machines themselves. Hence the idea of ​​turning towards renewable energies and carrying out an energy efficiency project for the entire structure, using solar panels and new generation boilers. “Work has already begun and seems to be progressing well,” Father Maged Maroun, attorney general of the Antonian Maronite Order (Oam) at the Holy See and rector of the College of Sant’Isaiah told Vatican News and “L’Osservatore Romano”. The Order’s treasurer has in fact decided to cover 10 percent of the costs of the project, while the bulk of the funding has been taken over by the Roaco (Meeting of Works for the Help of Oriental Churches), an organization headed by the same Dicastery. “I spent the last two weeks in Lebanon and spent a few days at the Mar Nohra Monastery – continues Father Maroun – and I was able to see with my own eyes that it is impossible to go on like this. For everyone, for people who don’t make ends meet, for future generations, and also for the friars. The idea for this project was born for several reasons. First, to guarantee the mission of the monastery itself: I am referring to the religious mission but also the pastoral and educational one. Currently, in fact, the monastery welcomes both student monks during the year of diaconate, and lay people for spiritual retreats or formation cohabitations. And then there is an important school of iconography; in addition, the monks dedicate themselves to the education and training of young people to pass on to them the ancient and religious baggage of this country and of being Christian”. «Finally – he adds – they have an agricultural activity, they cultivate land independently and feed themselves, according to an equally ancient practice, with the work of their hands. The monastery cannot live without water and electricity, therefore, given the drastic rationing implemented by the State, we have thought of an alternative energy, to survive us and to make the people who come to us to ask for help, to learn, feel better. to pray, we want to put into operation a “generator of salvation” for man and the environment and the choice of renewables is the only one possible as well as a duty, also because here if there is one thing that is almost never lacking , as there is a predominantly Mediterranean climate, it is the light of the sun». In Mar Nohra, therefore, listening to the will of Pope Francis, clearly expressed in the encyclicals Laudato si’ and Fratelli tutti, a “piece of the future” is being rewritten to alleviate the distrust, frustration and fatigue that all the Lebanese have been experiencing for a long time now , too much time.

from Sepia Cecilia

Renewable energies to stop the economic crisis in Lebanon – L’Osservatore Romano