4th September 2020
Samaritan’s Purse continues to help families recovering after a deadly August 4 blast that killed at least 200 people, injured thousands, and rocked homes and buildings for miles around. Our ongoing presence stands as a very tangible reminder to the city that they are not forgotten.
Since the beginning of our response on August 8, we have provided critical relief supplies to more than 3,500 families—distributing more than 6,900 tarpaulin, nearly 4,000 hygiene kits, and more than 7,500 solar lights.
A second DC-8 airlift on August 18 delivered a mobile surgical unit—along with a 13-member team of doctors, nurses, and additional support staff—to bring medical relief to those injured in Beirut’s hardest-hit areas.
Working alongside local hospital authorities, we’ve already provided care to more than 400 patients for whom the blast has hindered access to traditional clinics. Our infectious disease experts are also helping to prepare hospitals and medical personnel with COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control protocols (IFP).
“When we get the opportunity to help people in situations like this, it also gives us the opportunity to share the hope of Jesus Christ, to pray with people, and to tell them that they are truly loved by God,” said Bev Kauffeldt, team lead of the Beirut response.
Along with patient care, we are providing emotional care and counselling to children and families struggling with the trauma they experienced. Additionally, we’re training local Lebanese to provide emotional support to the many hurting families in their communities. That number is vast. Stories abound of how, literally in a flash, everything changed.
Some, like Daniel*, lost everything.
Daniel was working the dinner shift at his restaurant when the port erupted. Seconds later Beirut was overwhelmed by the shock-wave. Staff and customers standing outside saw a flash and had no time to react.
“We didn’t even hear the blast; we just felt the pressure,” Daniel said, whose restaurant was only two miles from the epicenter. “Once we saw the light, we didn’t have time to run. We were all trying to go inside but we couldn’t.”
Everyone was pushed backward by the force of the shock-wave and window glass shot toward them: “The glass was like small rockets.”
Daniel was thrown more than 15 feet, suffering a concussion and other injuries.
When Daniel later returned to his restaurant, he saw his years of hard work in shambles. The building was filled with shattered glass, unhinged doors, flipped tables, broken shelves, and stoves detached from the walls. Then he discovered that the blast had also destroyed his home.
“Nothing is left. It took 3-4 seconds and we lost everything. We lost our homes and some of our friends, too,” Daniel said. “But we thank God every single second; we are really blessed. A lot of people are blessed to be alive.”
Despite losing so much, Daniel expresses gratitude for God’s protection. His deep-rooted faith in God gives him confidence as he continues to rely on prayer in every circumstance.
“You need to have faith because God saved us. No one saved us but God,” said Daniel. “We have to pray before doing anything and then we plan things. When you wake up in the morning, you pray and ask God for a good day. That’s what I do every morning.”
Daniel also begins each day with determination, a quality developed during years of war, governmental unrest, and economic challenges in Beirut.
“It’s all gone, but we are still Lebanese. We are tough and strong,” Daniel said confidently. “We are going to stand back on our feet.”
Zania* and her family—refugees from a neighbouring country—attended a distribution through our local church partner where they received a heavy-duty tarpaulin, a hygiene kit, solar powered lights, and food parcels to meet their immediate needs. The day of the blast, Zania was home with her family in their apartment overlooking the city.
“I saw something like a mushroom [cloud] going out and a fire was burning all around Beirut,” Zania shared. “I felt like we were in the fire. Like a river of fire.”
It could be months—if ever—before residents of Beirut experience normalcy again in the wake of those tragic, devastating few seconds August 4. This is why Samaritan’s Purse continues to work and help meet needs in Jesus’ Name in this suffering city.
“God cares and He blesses us. You are a blessing to us,” said Zania. “Please keep praying for us; we need prayers more than anything ever.”
Please pray for the people of Beirut as they continue to pick up the pieces of their lives and for our teams as we continue to help meet needs in Jesus’ Name. Read more about how our emergency relief efforts are meeting the critical needs of families in Beirut.
More stories relating to our work in Beirut can be heard in our 28 August Episode of On the Ground with Samaritan’s Purse podcast: Sending Relief to Beirut, Lebanon After Deadly Explosion.