In the village of Kefraya in Lebanon's Western Beqaa District, a Muslim sheikh and a Christian nun work together to serve the poor, the sick and the needy.
Sister Maria Abou Haidar and Sheikh Ahmad Alkhahl have joined forces with other volunteers at the Order of Malta Lebanon, an extension of one of the oldest religious Catholic Orders (The Sovereign Order of Malta), to serve patients from some forty Lebanese villages, as well as hundreds of Syrian refugees.
"I think this image of me with the sheikh shows there is a coexistence between Christians and Muslims," Sr. Abou Haidar tells Rome Reports, which recently released a video featuring her and Sheikh Alkhahl.
"It is useful not only for the Middle East, but also for Europe, which is not accustomed to seeing this kind of coexistence that we have had for 1,600 years."
The Order of Malta, which is managed by the Sisters of Charity of Besançon, began operating during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990).
Despite its predominantly Christian background, the foundation serves people in need all across Lebanon regardless of their religious beliefs and political affiliations, sending a crucial message of coexistence.
"The Order serves those whom life did not favor, with love, dignity and in respect of all their differences," its official website states, adding that it offers social and medical help to "the sick, the needy, the elderly, the disabled and the refugees".
The Order currently acts through a network of 30 different operations, staffed by a total of 340 personnel. It works under the authority of The Sovereign Order of Malta, which operates in over 120 countries, providing medical and social assistance to those in need, along with emergency relief.
The Sovereign Order of Malta dates back to the late 1040s, having been originally established as a church, a convent and a hospital in Palestine's Jerusalem, offering care for pilgrims of different faiths and races.
When asked about his work at the Order, Sheikh Alkhahl explained, "First, we are children of man, we are all human. The human being has to respect this despite the different denominations of faith.
"Each one practices his religion according to the precepts that God has foreseen in it, but everyone, without exception, shares social, humanitarian and moral principles.”
Comprising 18 different recognized religious sects, Lebanon has witnessed its fair share of political and social unrest triggered by its religious and sectarian diversity - but humanity still prevails.
"There have been better and worse times: We have been persecuted, murdered, displaced," Sr. Abou Haidar tells Rome Reports. "Yet despite everything, there is forgiveness in the heart and we have been able to recover and take the next step.”