21 October 2015
Children line up at the St. Charles Orphanage near Beirut, Lebanon, where Sister Josephine Haddad and seven other sisters care for orphans who would otherwise live on the street.
(photo: Sarah Hunter)
Name: Sister Josephine Haddad
Order: Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul
Facility: Saint Charles Orphanage
Location: Achrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon
Near the center of Beirut, Lebanon, there’s a busy place where nurturing has been a way of life for years. It’s called Saint Charles Orphanage. And back in 1948, it opened its doors to help Lebanon’s most vulnerable residents: children who were poor, alone and had nowhere else to go.
Over the decades, Saint Charles’ mission has expanded. Sister Josephine Haddad and seven fellow sisters — along with seven staff members — still care for young orphans who would otherwise live on the street. But they now reserve part of their time for adults who arrive seeking help.
“We help children from age 5 until 17 years-old,” Sister Josephine explains. “And we serve free lunch for poor adults and elderly three times weekly.”
In addition to their orphanage and lunch program, the sisters run a boarding school for girls. As Sister Josephine says, “The girls come from very poor families and their living conditions are very severe. We provide them with education, nourishment, and what they need most: affection and love.”
She’s especially proud of a girl named Marwa who — along with her parents — knocked on Saint Charles’ door in 2004. “Her parents are deaf, unable to communicate,” Sister Josephine explains. “So she took the initiative to explain to us what they wanted. Marwa was very clever and responsible. And she was never ashamed of her parents’ handicap.”
Marwa spent four years at Saint Charles “and was always one of the best students in her class. Today she is in her last year in university, studying sign language, so she can help children suffering from deafness. She is still visiting us once or twice every week in order to assist the sisters in the afternoon.”
Sister Josephine admits that many children arrive with emotional issues due to extreme hardship or abuse. It’s why hiring a staff psychologist is at the top of her list — and why Saint Charles Orphanage desperately needs your financial support.
For now, she and her fellow sisters continue to accomplish a great deal with very little. And she takes comfort in knowing they’re making a difference. “Seeing the little children happy, smiling, having all their needs met,” she says, describing what makes the hard work worthwhile. “Seeing them playing, studying, sharing... this is my joy.”
Thousands of sisters. Millions of small miracles.
To support the good work of sisters throughout CNEWA’s world, click here. Also, for a limited time, you can make your gift go twice as far. A generous benefactor is matching every donation to support the sisters between now and 1 November, All Saints’ Day. Learn more about this great gift here.