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‘Faces of Poverty’ — A Powerful New Documentary Short from CARE Lebanon

Heartbreaking film offers glimpses into the lives of 5 Lebanese citizens living through the country's most severe economic crisis in its modern history

Faces of Poverty

Close-up on an elderly Lebanese man with a thick grey beard as he smokes a cigarette

On June 4, 2021, CARE Lebanon released the short documentary Faces of Poverty, a 10-minute film directed by the Lebanese artist Sandra Abrass, to highlight the devastating levels of poverty this once prosperous country now faces.

“The documentary tries to shed some light on the complex and dire humanitarian conditions of many Lebanese families these days,” CARE Lebanon Country Director Bujar Hoxha says. “The number of families that are falling below the poverty line is growing day by day and with it, our worry is increasing, as we see that the worst is still yet to come. The documentary tries to depict the voices, experiences, and hopes of youngsters, parents, and elderly, with a main question: What is next?


The Lebanese Lira has depreciated 90%

“The stories of Nour, Jamile, Nadine, Youssef and Chadi simply show the way an average family below the poverty line are living. We are so grateful to all the participants for their courage to speak out and share with us their daily life challenges.”

Lebanon is currently experiencing the most severe economic crisis in its modern history. Since the end of 2019, the Lebanese have been facing a huge economic crisis, which has led the Lebanese Lira to depreciate around 90% and an estimated 55% of the population falling below poverty line. Strict coronavirus lockdowns throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, alongside the devastating port explosion that destroyed large parts of the capital Beirut in August 2020, have all contributed to terrible economic situation Lebanon today finds itself in.

Faces of Poverty provides powerful glimpses into the lives of five Lebanese citizens from different walks of life battling a range of challenges including the strict coronavirus lockdowns and Lebanon’s economic crisis. Fifty-nine-year-old Youssef Bitar lost his house following the first coronavirus lockdown. He worked at the Souk el Ahad flea market and could no longer afford his rent.


of people in Lebanon live below the poverty line

of people in Lebanon live below the poverty line

Sixteen-year-old Chadi enjoyed going to school and spending time with his friends, but with the lockdowns, he was forced to drop out of school and work in a sheet metal shop. He still dreams of being able to return to studying. Nadine, 41, lost her sight when she was 11 due to a genetic disease. She is a mother of three children. With the economic crisis raging in Lebanon, she barely manages to feed them. Jamile raised her children on her own thanks to her job as a seamstress. Her children used to support her, but now they cannot make ends meet and her work has declined dramatically. She’s been forced to take loans from friends and neighbors to pay her rent.

“The number of families that are falling below the poverty line is growing day by day and with it, our worry is increasing.”

And finally, the child of a divorced couple, 16-year-old Nour lives with her maternal grandmother who has taken care of her since her childhood. To provide for the family, her grandmother collects tins and sells them by weight.

“When I was approached by CARE to do this documentary, I found myself immediately drawn to it. Being part of helping Lebanon fight poverty and helping those less fortunate was my main objective and the motto that kept me going,” filmmaker Sandra Abrass says. “It was not an easy journey, but I did it and I am proud of it. I have also learned a lot from the characters. It was an intense deep, experience that I am grateful for.”

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