Those who survived the deadly explosion in Beirut will forever remember Aug. 4, 6:06 p.m. as the time Lebanon’s decades of heartbreak escalated in an instant.
"At first I heard a noise, I thought it was an airplane or some other big noise," one Lutheran World Relief staff member said. "I realized it was an explosion when I flew around 6 meters (almost 20 feet) across the house."
She slammed into a door and was sprayed by shards of glass. Pain, confusion and fear flooded in — yet one of the bright lights that stands out is how neighbor helped neighbor even as chaos erupted around them.
"A neighbor rescued me, brought me outside," our colleague says. "Then we were helping one another – to move, to sit up, to control bleeding. A neighbor helped me to drink water and to wake up."
The blast worsens existing challenges in Lebanon
Our colleague wishes to remain anonymous. Working in Lebanon has its risks.
This week's explosion has added heartbreak beyond measure to the beleaguered country. As many as half of the country’s eligible workers are unemployed as Lebanon, already struggling to put decades of civil war to rest, struggles to stabilize its government and its inflated currency.
Yet even in Lebanon’s strife, neighbors are looking out for one another. A social media thread #ourhomesareopen organically took shape after the blast, connecting strangers willing to open their homes and other spaces to shelter an estimated 300,000 suddenly without a place to sleep.
Our colleague’s apartment building collapsed, but not before she helped to rescue other neighbors with more critical injuries.
Your neighbors in Lebanon need your help more than ever
The most immediate needs following the tragic explosion are for food assistance, shelter and health services. Just as neighbor helped neighbor in the aftermath to the blast, your love is well known in Lebanon for being there when needs arise.
Your love has helped provide food and critical items to people impacted by Lebanon’s civil war.
Your love reached out to help Syrians fleeing their own civil war, seeking shelter in Lebanon.
Your love built bridges between newly-arrived Syrians and Lebanese host communities, bringing neighbors together to learn new ways of farming and providing income for refugee and host alike.
As the echo of the Beirut blast fades and curtains blow in shattered windows, will your love reach neighbors who cannot return home?
"Think of yourself, the fear of seeing your home collapse, the fear of tomorrow, the country you love trying to build something — and suddenly the future is impossible to see," our colleague asks. "None of us want our kids to live this way."