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The nun and the Imam who work together for Lebanon’s most vulnerable

One of the Order of Malta’s centers run by nuns that assists Syrian refugees.

They are a nun and a sheikh. They eat breakfast together, laugh together, and work together in Lebanon. In a country with 17 religious denominations, life goes on without asking what God the other one believes in.

“First, we are children of man, we are all human. The human being has to respect this despite of the different denominations of faith. Each one practices his religion according to the precepts that God has foreseen in it, but everyone, without exception, shares social, humanitarian and moral principles.”

“I think this image of me with the sheikh shows there is a coexistence between Christians and Muslims. It is useful not only for the Middle East, but also for Europe, which is not accustomed to seeing this kind of coexistence that we have had for 1,600 years. There have been better and worse times: We have been persecuted, murdered, displaced. Yet despite everything, there is forgiveness in the heart and we have been able to recover and take the next step.”

This dispensary of the Order of Malta managed by the Sisters of Charity of Besançon began to operate in the middle of the Lebanese civil war. It is located in the rural region of Kefraya, and today serves patients from 40 villages and hundreds of Syrian refugees.

They also have this medical mobile unit that offers health care to those who are far away. In fact, that’s why the sheikh has visited the sisters today, to ask if this service can reach more places throughout the region.

“This is a very active center that is making it possible for a lot of people to live in the area, especially because of the current crisis. It is alleviating the difficulties of the population.”

“We have a good relationship with everyone. When a person holds out a hand we respond by stretching both hands.” “Everyone respects each other and there is coexistence. Christians and Muslims live together. They know that we are at their service.”

The nun and the sheikh are a symbol of Lebanon itself, a country where coexistence is a force that illuminates the darkness that threatens the entire Middle East.