Rawan* is a homemaker and mother of three daughters: Laila, 16, Farah, 13, and Ilham, nine. Her husband Imad used to work in a factory security team. The family’s lives changed drastically after the Beirut port explosion.
The family lives few miles from the port. On August 4, 2020—around the time of the explosion—Rawan and her daughters were at home excitedly preparing themselves for their relative’s pre-wedding party. Her husband was not at home at the time. Around 6 pm, they heard the sound of a plane following the first explosion. As Rawan and her daughters were heading to escape out of the house, the second huge blast happened. A window in the house was blown out and shards of glass hit 16-year-old Laila’s face. Rawan turned to find her eldest daughter lying on the floor unconscious, covered with blood and surrounded by dust and rubble.
“We were not aware what happened, as if we were drugged,” says Rawan.
When Imad came home, he tried checking Laila into several hospitals but could not due to the massive destruction at the Beirut hospitals and the many injured people coming in. Finally, he was able to admit her to a hospital outside Beirut where she had her eye injury stitched. Over the next year, several operations were done on Laila’s face, eye and nose, removing the glass under the stitches and treating her tear ducts. She is better now and is expected to have another operation in September 2021.
In addition to Laila’s situation, Imad lost his job since the factory where he used to work was destroyed in the explosion.
The emotional repercussions were huge. For a long time after the explosion, their daughter Farah could not sleep. She used to tell her family, “You go to sleep and I will watch over you.” Ilham, the youngest, used to cling to her mother’s clothes, refusing to leave her even when she went to sleep. Laila screams every time she hears the sound of a plane; she even fainted one time when hearing one.
The family joined the Emergency Response Program of SOS Children’s Villages Lebanon in March 2021. Since then, they have been receiving assistance to pay for their home rent, necessities, Laila’s medical expenses and psychological support.
“Through the assistance of the Emergency Response Program, I could cover our rent and other expenses for Laila. In addition, the psychologist sessions helped boost the morale and spirit of all my daughters, especially Laila”, says Rawan.
Laila likes to play football, and she is waiting to be enrolled with the team of an NGO. “I’d like to become a professional football player trainer,” she says.
“My hope for my daughters is that the situation is settled peacefully in Lebanon, that we can teach them well and that Laila compensates for her lost school year,” says Rawan. “I hope that my children are able to fulfill their dreams in this country."
Life is nothing without hope, the family always says. SOS Children’s Villages is working with Imad to start a new business to help him provide for the family so they can become self-reliant.
* Names changed to protect the family’s privacy.