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Resilience and ruin: life two years after the Beirut blast

Farah Bou Kheir, from our Lebanon Team, reflects on life in Lebanon two years after the deadly Beirut port explosion.

Farah Bou Kheir | 05 Aug 2022

A port with a building damaged by a blast

The port in Beirut where the explosion happened. Photo taken days after the blast from an adjacent building | Image credit: Rashid Khreiss/Unsplash

Two years ago, on the 4 August 2020, a large blast hit the city of Beirut. The explosion affected everyone in Lebanon. The country is small, with a population of just over 6.5 million people – one million of these being vulnerable Syrian refugees. Everyone knew someone affected and has their own story from that evening of fearing the worst for their loved ones. The country was traumatised.

More than 200 people were killed, and close to 3,000 injured. The blast damaged many buildings – including those that were 12 miles away – and 300,000 people’s homes were damaged or destroyed. It also put lots of businesses out of service, many have been unable to recover.

Despite this, communities came together to clear up the streets and support their neighbours.

Heartbroken

Even before the blast the situation in Lebanon was getting bad, but since then it has become much worse. The economic crisis has affected everyone. People’s lifetime savings in the banks have been wiped out.

In 2019, the exchange rate was 1,500 Lebanese pounds to 1 US dollar. Now, it is more than 30,000 Lebanese pounds to 1 US dollar. For many, the cost of living is unbearable.

Through years of conflict, the resilience of Lebanese people has shone through. It is a trait that this nation is known for. But today, the Lebanese nation is heartbroken; the country is devastated by these compounding crises and the lack of accountability from the politicians.

‘What was once taken for granted in this beautiful country is now a dream for Lebanon.’
Farah Bou Kheir, Lebanon Team

The difference

Walking around Beirut today you can see the difference. Many people are living on the streets asking for something to eat or searching through bins. You can see in people’s eyes the concerns they have of paying bills, paying for fuel, and buying medicine for chronic diseases. Electricity blackouts are common, as are internet outages. The ability of agencies, like Tearfund and our partners, to respond is getting tougher.

What was once taken for granted in this beautiful country is now a dream for Lebanon. Half the country’s population, in addition to the vulnerable Syrian refugees, are now in need of humanitarian assistance. And this need is only increasing.

Lebanon has been broken inside out. Yet, we believe the hope we experience through knowing Jesus shines through in the work of our local partners. We are helping young people recover from trauma, to build peace and to re-establish businesses. A different future is possible.

Pray with us

The following prayer was written by Father Elias Marsawanian, from the Convent of St Francis of Assisi in Zahle, Lebanon.

Dear sisters and brothers, I invite you to pray with me for our country of Lebanon. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We lift Lebanon to the throne of grace. We ask God to intervene in the midst of the crisis. Our country is in agony. Justice is absent. Peace is far away. Security is low. Stability is non-existent.

Yet, we lift our eyes up high to where your help comes from, the maker of Heaven and Earth. We pray for justice to prevail. We pray for comfort to those who lost a family member in the blast, the Covid-19 pandemic and other incidents.

We pray for the church to continue its mission and spread hope to the hopeless and bring light to the dark spots. May our God strengthen the church. May God empower every organisation extending the hand of compassion to vulnerable individuals.

Our country is in your hands. Guide us, Lord. Lead us and surround us and our mission with your shield. We thank you for the freedom we have in Lebanon, the freedom to worship you and to exalt your name.

We pray this in Jesus' name, the redeemer and the king of our nations and hearts.

Amen.

  Farah Bou Kheir

Farah is part of our team in Lebanon

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