Letters - 19 November 2021

From Brummana’s supporters to Population concern

Brummana’s supporters

The dramatic plight of Lebanon continues to be headline news and so it should be. In a country disintegrating, just where Brummana High School (BHS) would be without its Quaker supporters conjures a terrible image: one of students, staff and families at breaking point and a country and region without its educational beacon for 150 years. 

Predicted by the World Bank (in June) to be in the top three worst financial crises since 1850, the country is perilously close to disaster. The crumbling economy, political and social upheaval, the explosion, pandemic and geopolitical challenges have put individuals, families and communities on the brink. Without international support the country once revered for banking, medicine, entertainment, nature and education may be little more than a forgotten speck.

BHS now suffers at the hands of the devaluation of the local currency and rampant inflation. Community members are struggling on with over ninety per cent of the value of their incomes scrapped. Still teachers give 100 per cent to their charges. Still parents desperately try to ensure their children’s education does not waver. Yet how much harder it could possibly get is frankly difficult to imagine.

Since 1873 the school has found great support through the international Quaker community. Founded by a member of the Religious Society of Friends, the school received support from the UK and US to develop and prosper. It is that same base of Friends who continue to support now. The Quaker International Educational Trust and the Friends of Brummana group are among them. Without their support, along with old scholars worldwide, the community would be on its knees.

In a country with such a sparse state education system, the non-profit BHS has filled the gap for many over generations. Thanks to the Quaker supporters of the present, the school continues to teach individuality, service, tolerance, respect, peaceful resolution and environmental stewardship.

A quality education provides three elements: the relief of poverty; the conferring of human dignity; and the basis of democracy. All three elements are needed in Lebanon right now and all three are in a Brummana education.

The support the school is receiving comes in many different formats yet the most pressing is financial: to provide a living wage to teachers (staff hardship), and to ensure no student is left behind by the crisis (bursaries). If you wish to support one of the last Quaker institutions in the region at its most desperate time of need, please do consider joining for BHS Gives, the school’s giving day campaign.

This year BHS Gives is scheduled for 2/3 December and supporters will be able to donate online at www.justgiving.com/q-u-i-e-t.

Please contact me directly if you wish to receive updates for the event at principal@bhs.edu.lb. In giving you will help guarantee the education and lives of hundreds, and hope and optimism for thousands.

Thank you to all BHS supporters past, present and future.

David Gray
Principal, Brummana High School

All talk?

I found the interview with Anne-Marie Trevelyan (5 November) troubling as she clearly has not had the damascene moment she claims and is a cynical appointment to forestall change.

Her superficial approach was exemplified by everything moving ‘at pace’ (which she said ten times) and the journey that is ‘a marathon not a sprint’. But I don’t want to focus on the fairly contentless interview but rather on her record, as she talks about moral leadership.

She talks about being shocked by the floods of 2012 and changing her mind from being a denier. She had tweeted in the summer of 2012 ‘[there is] clear evidence that the ice caps aren’t melting after all’ and ‘global warming isn’t actually happening’. Prior to being appointed our UK champion for adaptation and resilience for COP26 she voted to support fracking and has consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change.

For the first nine months of this year she was the minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth! Is this the best person we have for the job? With people like this at the helm we are in real trouble.

In January 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes ‘fit for human habitation’. Trevelyan was one of seventy-two Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment who personally derived an income from renting out property. This is one of the reasons we will not see any real help for youngsters struggling to buy property.

She was the secretary of state for International Trade and, prior to her appointment, Trevelyan expressed apparent scepticism about the value of foreign aid on a number of occasions. We know what Boris has said about foreigners so she is just the right person for the job.

Nick Davis

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