Christmas Gift Distribution 2016 – Third Phase
Title of the Event: Gift Distribution Ceremony for the Catholic Iraqi Refugees
Church Organization Served: Chaldean Catholic Church
Location: Sed El Baouchrieh of Beirut Lebanon
Date: January 14, 2017
Demographics of Children Served – Third Phase
|Age Groups (years)||Boys||Girls||Total|
|1 to 3||110||112||222|
|4 to 6||82||79||161|
|7 to 9||107||99||206|
|10 to 12||103||87||190|
On January 14th 2017 St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy (a.k.a “The Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope”) had its third phase of the 2016 Christmas Gift Distribution. This third phase was focused on delivering gifts to the children of the Chaldean Catholic Church located in Sed El Baouchrieh of Beirut, Lebanon. There were more than 900 children present along with their parents to receive their awaited Christmas gifts providing them a breath of hope and joy.
Our committed and united team of volunteers once again proved to be worthy of being called the Apostolate of Hope. Their dedication to this effort has made it a very successful effort towards spreading mercy to those in most need of it. Each one of them showed courage and readiness to serve Jesus, who’s voice is heard through the pain of the refugee children. These following volunteers should be recognized for their charitable time and talents: Anthony Nasrani, Elie Andraos from ( الحركة الرسولية المريمية), Stephanie Khoury, Nathalie Harb, Elias Aoun and Marianne Howayek from ” El Abana Group” (children of the Heavenly Father) Santana Abiassaf, Nancy Ishak and Gerard Abiassaf.
With the help of our Denver Team, our Director Father Andre Mahanna, Hage Supermarket Store, and our generous volunteers we could arrangement after a long month for getting the right gift to over 900 refugee children that were present. Of the 900 children that were present, 120 of them arrived unexpectedly. With the help of the Chaldean Church, enough gifts were gathered at the last minute to be presented to them as well.
The local television and radio broadcasting channels were present as well to take notice of the event on that special day. I, Gerard Abiassaf, told Telelumiere Noursat, a Christian broadcasting television station: “Our goal today is to assure that hope of a better life for the Iraqi refugees is finally here and that God is here as well. These gifts we are distributing are a symbol of the joy these children were deprived of”. Then I continued: “St. Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy’s second goal is to ensure clothing for the 900 present children and their families along with food, medicine and urgent medical operations when needed.” Afterwards, a second television broadcasting station ‘BNB’ asked me: “As young adults what is the goal today by distributing gifts to this huge number of children?” I said: “Our goal today is to be the right hand of God by being true apostolates of hope and mercy towards these families. It is not just our responsibility but our obligation to help them by being the true voice and act of God through our mission.”
The gift distribution took over 4 hours with the large number of children present. Even though it was a lengthy process, volunteers along with the help of the Chaldean Church locals, were very happy to bring smiles to the children’s faces. Santana AbiAssaf one the volunteers said: “When we see the smile and joy we were able to render on the face of one child, unexplainable joy and peace fills us and gives us strength to keep giving more.” This response sums up all the volunteer’s sentiments towards the day’s mission event.
Additionally, our Co-Founder and Director Father Andre Mahanna was also present with us through Facetime from the America to follow up with the gift distribution process during the day. He also asked Santana to get snacks and juice for the children since they were waiting in line to get their gifts. Father Andre also assured Msgr. Trabolsi, the Vice Vicar General of the Chaldean church: “We want to also provide coats, jackets, food and most urgently, ensure needed medical operations for the refugees.” He continued: “We are here from America by your side and by the side of the church.”
Finally, one word describes today’s efforts of love, “success”. As young adults, on behalf of Father Andre, Team Denver and our supporting volunteers, God wrote a story of hope and mercy today through our mission. He continues to do so by the mission’s persistence to keep working towards making our earth a safe-haven for all the tortured and persecuted Christians in the Middle East and around the world. Our mission is that through charity we deliver Jesus Christ as the true gift to all the children and persecuted families.
Submitted By Gerard AbiAssaf
Lebanon Field Officer