Lebanon

Beirut explosion: bringing hope to a population that feels abandoned

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"Don't abandon us." This is what all the victims of the Beirut explosion seem to be saying. While the disaster is not in the international media headlines anymore, its consequences on a population already worn-out by months of financial crisis, protests, political turmoil and the COVID-19 pandemic remain, and are catastrophic. The call centre set up by TSF, in collaboration with the local organisation Live Love Lebanon, is offering them a glimmer of hope and a link to receive the support they need, before everyone forgets them.

"Thanks to you, to Live Love Lebanon and TSF. Because you called me two, three times, asking how you could help. I finally found someone who listens to me. I need someone who listens to me. We had a significant shock, I'm stressed, my mother has depression. When you contacted us, we were both very happy. It gives us the force to move on." Carla is 49, she and her sick mother were at home when the explosion hit their apartment. "We were on the balcony, when we heard the explosion we run inside and I tried to cover my mother to protect her." The house got severely damaged, doors and windows were broken. Carla now needs medications for her mother, a new oxygen machine and the repair of her apartment before the beginning of the winter. She has already received food and is waiting for the other requests to be fulfilled. When we asked her how TSF and Live Love Lebanon helped her she said: "It gave me happiness because I finally got an answer, I was touched by the personal attention towards me and my situation, I felt safe."

Carla is not the only one who told us that the call centre provided psychological relief. During the evaluation visits our teams are conducting, several victims of the explosion showed gratitude for this assistance. "I got psychological support because someone is actually listening to me and caring about my well-being" Salah told us. "It is nice to have someone listen to you, you brought us hope because the situation is catastrophic." Rita and Joseph confirmed. "I have been helped mentally, and I now have hope that there are people who are willing to help," Rita added. They all had their houses severely damaged, windows destroyed, ceilings collapsed, apartments often condemned, with the winter rapidly approaching.

Some even lost their house, like Christina, who had her house so damaged that it must be demolished and reconstructed. "We were visited by many NGOs but didn't receive help from any of them, this is why we lost hope," she told us. They are all in need of food, medications, shelter and reparation of their houses. While some forms of aid are faster and are already being provided, some others require more time. In this situation, the victims need to receive concrete aid, but they also need to feel supported and not abandoned. What TSF is providing them through the call centre, is a sure link with the organisations that can help them receive the urgent aid necessary and recover from this catastrophe.

Through the calls and the WhatsApp bot, more than 1,000 requests have been received and are being treated. TSF will continue its technical support to the call centre and its visits to the assisted families to ensure they are receiving the help they need and they continue to feel supported. "TSF mission is to connect isolated people and give a voice to those silenced by humanitarian disasters. This call centre is giving a voice to people who are in dire need of help, but that, in view of the current situation in the country, would hardly be heard otherwise," Florent Bervas, Head of Mission for TSF in Lebanon.