Lebanon – August 3 2021

Rising from the rubble

Rawan* is a homemaker and mother of three daughters, Laila, 16, Farah, 13, and Ilham, 9. Her husband Imad used to work in a factory security team. The family’s life changed drastically after the Beirut port explosion.

The family lives few kilometers from the port. On 4 August, around the time of the explosion, Rawan and her daughters were at home excitedly preparing themselves for their relative’s pre-wedding party. The father was not at home at the time. Around 6 pm, they heard the sound of a plane following the first explosion. As the mother and her daughters were heading to escape out of the house, the second huge blast happened. A window in the house was blown out and shards of glass hit Laila’s face. Rawan turned to find her eldest daughter lying on the floor unconscious, covered with blood, surrounded with dust and rubble.

“We were not aware what happened, as if we were drugged,” said Rawan. 

When Imad came home, he tried checking Laila in several hospitals but could not due to the massive destruction in the Beirut hospitals and the many injured people coming in. Finally, he admitted her to a hospital outside Beirut where she had her eye injury stitched. Until April 2021, several operations were done on Laila’s 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 Laila’s situation, 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 daughter Farah could not sleep; she used to tell her family, “You go to sleep and I will watch over you.” Ilham, the youngest, used to cling to her mother’s clothes, refusing to leave her even when she went to sleep. Laila screams every time she hears the sound of a plane; she even fainted one time when hearing one.

Since March 2021, the family has joined the Emergency Response Programme of SOS Children’s Villages Lebanon. Since then, they have been receiving assistance in covering their home rent and necessities, Laila’s medical expenses, and psychological support. 

“Through the assistance of the Emergency Response Programme, I could cover the home rent and other expenses for Laila. In addition, the psychologist sessions helped boost the morale and spirit of all my daughters, especially Laila”, says Rawan. 

Laila likes to play football, and she is waiting to be enrolled with the team of an NGO. “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 that Laila compensates for her 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. This family is clinging to this saying. 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.

* Text by Amal Dakik.