On Tuesday 4 August, at the time of the explosion, 52-year-old Farouk and his 16-year-old daughter Tala were in their car in a parking lot in downtown Beirut near the port. They are residents of a town 60km away, but were visiting for the day.
“We were looking at the city centre and the port and we were like ‘How beautiful Beirut is’,” said Tala.
They rolled down their car’s windows to get a better view of the city, and as they parked, Farouk opened the door to get out the car.
And then there was the explosion.
“The blast propelled me two metres above the ground … It was the apocalypse,” said Farouk.
“I just thank God! In the parking lot, there were other cars with people in them. Blood had gushed out of their ears. They are all dead. They had their car windows closed and it was the blast that killed them, “he said.
Farouk had no other choice than to drive his unstable car, with a shattered windshield, with the airbags deployed, sixty kilometres back home.
Since Thursday, Farouk has been going every single day with his daughter Tala and around forty people from his village to Beirut to give a helping hand to the victims. Every day this group comes with sandwiches or manakishs (Lebanese pancakes topped with thyme or cheese), which they offer the survivors in the most stricken areas of the city.
“We will come to Beirut every single day! We will help with the limited means we have! This is the least we can do…” he says.