Since October 2019, Lebanon been facing one crisis after the other. Throughout the last months, this country has been suffering from an economic crisis, dealing with having almost 1.5 million refugees, a global pandemic and now an explosion that shattered its capital to pieces, leaving nearly 300 000 people homeless. With more than 100 deceased and 4000 injured, the people are left in shock and wondering about their futures, and the futures of the children. The sound of the blast left everyone frightened, the scenes of destruction are now engraved in everyone’s memories forever, and the children of Beirut had a lot to say about this.
Sirine, 12, a sponsored child with World Vision who lives in Beirut, compared the events of August 4 to war and living in war zones. “What happened yesterday was worse than war. I was walking on the street with my parents when we heard a big explosion. We started looking around to check if everyone’s fine and we saw an older man passed out and covered with glass,” she recalls. “Actually, everyone was on the floor, and glass was everywhere. All the stores around us were shattered. We tried to help as many people as we can.” At the time, Sirine thought the damage was on the streets and that the explosion had affected those who were away from their homes. “When we went home, we saw that our house was destroyed and that my sister injured herself with shattered glass.”
As for Tia, she was in the safety of her, when the sound of the blast woke her up. “I heard my neighbours screaming and crying. I did not understand what was going on. I went barefoot outside to see everyone shouting,”says the 11-year-old sponsored child. “I went back inside to wear my shoes. No one was able to explain what was going on,” Tia remembers the state of confusion everyone was in in the first 30 minutes after the blast; her family, friends,even their neighbours. “ When I reached my friends, we hugged each other. We were all crying, and we did not understand what was going on or what will happen.”
In the suburbs of Beirut reside hundreds of Syrian refugee families. Marwa, 12, did not think for a minute that the memories of the war and the sounds it brought would be revived in Lebanon. “During those first minutes, we lived in fear and panic. We were afraid we did not know what we had to do.
Everything reminded me of the war back in Syria.”
Dina, five, did not witness the war in her home country, but nonetheless, the powerful explosion brought her to tears.“I was playing with my friend outside, when suddenly we heard a voice, we did not understand what it was. Our parents grabbed us and took us inside, they were afraid that something might happen to us or we get hit by a bomb. I was crying because I was afraid. Yesterday was a terrifying day.”
The August 4 scenes are horrific to an extent that they can never be forgotten or erased from the memory of anyone who saw them for many generations to come. It is an evening that will forever be engraved in the memories of all those who lived and most certainly in the minds of the children.