By Noemi Jabois and Ana María Guzelian
Beirut, Aug 21 (EFE).- A veterinary clinic to plug in oxygen machines; cafes to recharge cell phones; a music school where the instruments are an escape: Beirut businesses that still have electricity are trying to help locals cope with the severe energy crisis gripping the nation.
The ‘Mayrig’ restaurant was the first to open up its facilities to the public, after the Central Bank of Lebanon announced on August 11 that it will no longer be able to subsidize fuel imports needed to run the country’s electric generators.
With public supply almost non-existent, Lebanese households have since been living on — at best — a couple of hours of electricity per day due to rationing by generator operators, who cannot find diesel and charge exorbitant amounts for their limited services.
NO LIGHTS AT HOME
“The employees would come early and when they had a break they wouldn’t leave the restaurant. When I asked them why, they would tell me they had no electricity at home and no air conditioning, they couldn’t recharge their phones, they couldn’t work on their computers,” Mayrig owner Aline Kamakian tells Efe.
That was when she took to social media to offer Beirutis to come to her restaurant to recharge their electronic devices without the need to purchase anything. Some 78% of the country’s population lives in poverty, according to UN estimates.
The invitation immediately went viral and inspired other businesses, mainly coffee shops and restaurants, to follow in her footsteps. “It has provided a ray of positivity in these dark days. The idea is just to be here together because we have no choice but to support each other,” Kamikian says.
MUSIC TO ESCAPE
Yara has been playing the piano for eight years and, although she has an electric one at home, she can no longer use it due to the continuous power outages.