By Ramzi Saliba, CARE Canada Program Manager
One week after the devastating blast that shook Beirut to its core and destroyed half the city, the shock wave is not done ripping through the hearts and souls of those who witnessed the single largest explosion in peacetime history.
As I was born in Lebanon and am now living overseas I am seeing this crisis and its aftermath unfold from two sides. I am seeing the overwhelming generosity of other nations, who have opened their hearts to help provide immediate emergency aid to the people of Lebanon. It has given me so much hope and comfort during this tragedy.
On the other hand, I am also hearing from my friends and family in Lebanon right now who are telling me the destruction is beyond what anyone can imagine.
Ten days after the explosions, the people I speak to in Lebanon are still unable to process the magnitude of the disaster. Witnessing your capital city turned into rubble in the span of seconds has caused more damage than any news report can ever convey.
But amidst this tragedy, people from all over the country sprang into action. They shared their skills, carried their brooms, their shovels, and their masks to protect against COVID-19, and went into the city to clean up, and to bring hope to those who need it most.
These are real life, every day, humanitarian heroes.
When I see the photos of Beirut, the streets are no longer recognisable, none of the city’s landmarks as I knew them are still standing. The task ahead to build back is enormous, and every street, every building, and every home is in ruins.
My friends Marc, Tracy, and Joanna are in Beirut right now and are just some of the volunteers who are helping to clean up the city. They chose an apartment building to clean up first. Inside the building, they found broken doors, windows blown out along with the frames, a damaged pool, but an unflinching owner.
“They can’t destroy me,” the owner said. “I’m strong. My house is destroyed, and I had to put down my dog because it was so badly injured in the blast. But I’ll rebuild. I’ll stay here because this is my home”.
The people of Lebanon are known around the world for their resilience and ability to bounce back. In the middle of all this destruction, there are signs of survival, of hope, determination, and an unshakeable will to build back.
But right now they need our help.