These last two days have been hard to process. In talking with family, friends and acquaintances in #Lebanon, you realize how many of them are “fine”, but not fine. How many of them count themselves lucky to be alive or with only minor injuries. How many of them have survivors’ guilt. How many of them are still processing the calamity and trying to understand how to pick up the pieces.
You also learn about those who didn’t make it. And your heart breaks a little. The scenes coming out of #Beirut are devastating. The videos, the pictures, the human stories being shared are all so tragic. The Beirut port, through which 80% of Lebanon’s imports passed through, is completely leveled. Large parts of the city are destroyed beyond repair, and every part of the city has some amount of visible damage. The number of casualties keeps rising. The latest count is 200 dead and 5000 injured, with hundreds still missing. There are 300,000 people homeless in a city of 1 million, with a large number of them unable to rebuild. What are these people supposed to do?
The country was already in the midst of its worst economic crisis since the Civil War due to the political and banking class’ complete mismanagement of the economy, which has destroyed enormous amounts of wealth and people’s life savings, and led to hyper-inflation and skyrocketing prices that have eroded whatever was left of people’s purchasing power. More than 30% of the population was already unemployed. Nearly 50% of the population was already living in poverty, defined as less than $4/day. And everyone was struggling to cope in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. And now this. What are these people supposed to do?
Lebanon and its people are legendary for their resilience. It’s true. In my lifetime only, people in Lebanon have experienced a devastating 15 year Civil War. They’ve experienced multiple Israeli invasions, massacres, an 18-year Occupation and a massively destructive war in 2006. They’ve experienced a 30-year Syrian Occupation and countless political assassinations. They’re currently experiencing a debilitating economic crisis that threatens to unravel the country at its seams. And now, they’ve experienced an explosion with the blast yield of a small atomic bomb detonated in the middle of Beirut because of this ruling class’ criminal negligence for its own people. And yet, I have no doubt that Beirut will rise again, and take its place as the jewel of the Middle East, precisely because Lebanon is resilient.
But in this very moment, people are not thinking about being resilient, or upholding their reputations. They’re thinking about how to deal with the immediate crisis at hand. And as such, Lebanon and its people need help right now. They need your support. For those who have sent messages of solidarity, thank you. For those who have donated, thank you. For those who have stood in support of Lebanon and its people in hard times, thank you. You have no idea how much it all means. Thoughtfulness in times of hardship is worth its weight in gold.
So for those who would like to help, or continue helping, the most effective way to help Lebanon is to donate money to organizations on the ground doing relief work right now. This link provides you with several options. If you have any questions, please let me know. Much love to everyone in these hard times.