Rising from the rubble
On August 4, 2020, a massive explosion hit the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut, killing over 200 people and injuring more than 2,600 others. In addition, the blast caused enormous damage to the nearby buildings and neighbourhoods, leaving thousands of people without homes.
Today, Lebanon is suffering through a financial crisis, that according to the World Bank could rank among the world’s three worst since the mid-1800s in terms of its effect on living standards. The currency has lost more than 90 per cent of its value since October 2019. Inflation is at its highest levels, causing import prices to increase in all sectors, including food and medication. There is also a severe shortage in medicines, fuel, and electricity.
To support families in Beirut, SOS Children’s Villages in Lebanon started an emergency program that offers psychological support, food and non-food assistance, as well as financial help to assist families with their daily life expenses, medication, and children’s education.
A family’s hope for a better future
Rawan* is a mother of three daughters between the ages of 9 and 16 in Beirut, Lebanon. Her husband Imad, used to work security in a factory but the family’s life changed drastically after the Beirut port explosion.
The family lives only a few kilometers from the port. On August 4, around the time of the explosion, Rawan and her daughters were at home excitedly preparing themselves for their relative’s pre-wedding party. Their father was not at home at the time. Around 6:00 p.m., they heard the sound of a plane following the first explosion. As the mother and her daughters were trying to escape out of the house, the second huge blast happened. A window in the house was blown out and shards of glass hit their eldest daughter. Rawan turned to find her daughter lying on the floor unconscious, covered with blood, surrounded with dust and rubble.
The family tried bringing their daughter to several hospitals in Beirut but they didn’t have room due to the massive destruction at local hospitals and with any functioned hospital being overwhelmed with people injured during the blast. Finally, she was admitted to a hospital outside Beirut where she had her eye injury treated and stitched. Up to April this year, doctors had to do several operations on her face, eye and nose, removing the glass under the stitches and treating her tear ducts. She is better now and is expected to have another operation in September 2021.
In addition to the injuries that family endured, Imad lost his job since the factory where he used to work was destroyed in the explosion.
The emotional repercussions were huge as well. For a long time after the explosion, their middle daughter could not sleep. She used to tell her family, “You go to sleep and I will watch over you.” Their youngest daughter used to cling to her mother’s clothes, refusing to leave her even when she went to sleep. Their eldest daughter screams every time she hears the sound of a plane; she even fainted one time when hearing one.
Since March 2021, the family been apart of the Emergency Response Program run by SOS Children’s Villages Lebanon. They have been receiving assistance to help them cover their rent and basic necessities, medical expenses, and psychological support.
“Through the assistance of the Emergency Response Program, I could cover the rent and other [medical] expenses. In addition, the psychologist sessions helped boost the morale and spirit of all my daughters specially the eldest,” says Rawan.
She likes to play football and is waiting to be enrolled with in a team. “I’d like to become a professional football player trainer,” she says.
“My hopes for my daughters is that the situation is settled peacefully in Lebanon, that we can teach them well and they can make up for a lost school year,” says Rawan. “I hope that my children are able to fulfill their dreams in this country,” she adds.
Life is nothing without hope, a saying this family is firmly believing in these days. SOS Children’s Villages is working with Imad to start a new business to help him provide for the family so they can become self-reliant.
*Names were changed to protect the family’s privacy