Serine and her newborn with an Action Against Hunger support worker.
On August 4, 2020, a massive explosion erupted in the port of Beirut, Lebanon. The blast devastated the port area, the main avenue for imports of essential goods into the country. It leveled nearby buildings and severely damaged critical infrastructure including hospitals, storage facilities for food and medical supplies, and the city’s power grid. Over 200 people were killed, thousands wounded, and 300,000 left temporarily homeless.
Serine Ouadis Toulough was at home in the nearby Geitawi neighbourhood, pregnant with her second child when she heard the explosion. “All of a sudden, glass was shattered all over the place and everything was turned upside down,” she says. “I thought of my husband, my son, and the soul inside my womb.”
Serine and her family live less than one kilometer from the epicenter of the deadly explosion. The blast destroyed her husband’s barber shop – their livelihood – and left their home severely damaged, shortly before their baby was due to arrive.
The disaster occurred at a time when Lebanon was already facing a multi-faceted crisis. Economic contraction and the impact of COVID-19 have compounded needs among Lebanese and non-Lebanese communities, including the country’s large refugee population.
Serine’s family was traumatized by the experience. “We started by taking away the glass and it felt like collecting all our memories and years of hard work and throwing them away,’’ says Serine.
In the aftermath of the explosion, Action Against Hunger and our Humanitarian Coalition partners helped support families like Serine’s. We provided emergency cash assistance to victims of the disaster, ensuring they had a safe place to sleep and access to basic necessities. The $300 Serine’s family received made it possible to replace the windows that had been blown out by the explosion and repair their home in time for the arrival of the new baby.
“Now I thank God that we’re in good health, I thank God that with your support (…) we got our shelter back,” says Serine with tears in her eyes. “We were able to celebrate our newborn (…) but unfortunately only few of our family and friends could manage to come, because we lost some, and some are still healing either physically or mentally.”
Action Against Hunger has been active in Lebanon since 2006, providing targeted nutrition, sanitation and food security programming. In the aftermath of the explosion, our teams mobilized to respond to the urgent needs of Beirut residents.
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