Rahif looks much older than his 56 years. He has always lived in poverty, but the crisis that Lebanon has been going through for more than two years now has plunged him further into misery.
Rafif’s life turned upside down shortly before the crisis when his wife, with whom he had spent 28 years, walked away in 2017 leaving him to care for their five children, including two girls aged today 9 and 10. With the crisis, sending them to school has become a real burden, he doesn’t know how to pay for stationery or the school bus.
“I was a carpenter; I lost my job when my wife left me. I tried working as a taxi driver but it didn’t work,” he says. Rahif has been unemployed for a long time. He suffers from several illnesses, including diabetes, and relies on alms to survive. “My brothers, a little less poor than I am, sometimes helps me,” he explains.
He has been renting his house in a poor area of Tripoli for a long time but does not have the means to carry out the necessary maintenance work there, repainting it for example. With his family, he lives almost without electricity relying only on the current supplied by the electricity of Lebanon and which has not exceeded two hours a day for more than four months.
Buying a gas bottle to be able to cook and prepare hot meals for his children has become a luxury for him. “It’s too expensive, often by lack of means, my children only eat thyme sandwiches, Lebanese bread sprinkled with dried thyme. When I can afford it, I boil potatoes or pasta,” he says.
Rahif who is a CARE program participating through an OCHA project, like many people who have been in dire need for more than two years, does not like to dwell on the details of his daily life. It takes time to confess that for several months, he and his children have eaten twice a day, skipping breakfast or dinner. “You end up getting used to it,” he says.