The morning after

Beirut, Lebanon

It is the morning after.

What we hoped to be a nightmare, turned out not to be. I mean it is, but it happened for real.
People are still missing. The search continues. The capital is in rubbles.
It’s OK to feel vulnerable and weak, but we must not panic. We did that yesterday. Today is a day of action. We need to keep it together.

This one is on us.

We are at the very early stages to assess the exact needs. For now, it’s basic emergency needs. That means medical help, food, water & shelter.

Wear a mask & gloves. Head to Gemmayzeh or Mar Mikhael or Martyrs’ Square. Help those who need to gather their stuff from underneath the mess. Have your phone at full charge & bring a power bank. Have someone know where you are.

Please follow instructions of whoever is in charge on the spot. Do not do your own thing. Be kind to strangers.

Organize yourself on a neighborhood basis. Check up on your neighbors. Establish neighborhood watches for safety if you’ve lost your doors or parts of your building. Take turns. Do not overburden yourself. Self-care is important.

Less than 24 hours later, Armenia street was busy again.

Hundreds of volunteers took the streets to help clean homes, shops, sidewalks & make room for cars to pass.
A community of volunteers who organically came down to help. No one asked us to go down.
It was a no brainer that we needed to be there. None of us had slept the night before, but it was the least we could do.

My starting point was where Armenia street begins in Dawra. Passed through Bourj Hammoud & reached Mar Mikhael. All I could hear was the noise of glass. Broken glass.

The damage is beyond my ability to explain. A piece of my heart is broken. Everyone lost a part of their heart. Everyone died a little, even if we survived the blast.

All the frustration, disappointment & heartache, however, was transformed into helping others. By early afternoon, youth from around the country had joined us in Beirut to give a hand.

Everyone was a stranger, but it felt like everyone knew each other. We were going through the same grief. Strangers became a community of volunteers. Each doing what they can. Some with a broom or a shovel. Others giving out water. Preparing sandwiches. Distributing food. Checking up on each other. Sharing their individual recollection of the moment. Taking turns to make sure no one is overworked.

This is a people so used to a failed state, they knew this was on them.

On the day of the explosion, I walked from Gemmayzeh to Mar Mikhael to get home. It was a battlefield. Traumatizing to say the least. The next day, walking from Mar Mikhael to Gemmayzeh, it was a heartbreak. The type where you physically feel the pain in the heart.

Looking around you understand that this isn’t a day gone wrong. This is a city destroyed. This is not reversible. And the fact that all this was preventable is killing me.

137 deaths. 5000 injured. Many still missing. The numbers will rise.

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