Beirut residents traumatised and financially affected by the explosion

The consequences of the explosion in Beirut are immense. Adults and children carry the traumatic experience with them every day. Many people lost not only their homes as a result of the explosion but also their source of income. 

Rana is an entrepreneur who runs a clothing store in one of Beirut’s affected areas. The explosion caused severe damage to her store. She has no money for repairs. No store, means no income for Rana and therefore no money to buy food.

One-time business grant

Affected entrepreneurs receive a one-time business grant from the Joint Response to restore their businesses. Cordaid’s partner Caritas, provides this type of cash support. “Cash is great. It is an empowering way of giving support. People can use it independently to repair their homes, businesses or to buy food”, says Soniya. Soniya is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the work of the Joint Response, that is how the work affects beneficiaries, as well as the environment they live in. For example, she evaluates if people were able to easily access the money, if it has solved the reported problem and if their situation and the environment they live in has actually improved.

Traumatic experience

The explosion has also major psychological consequences. People lost relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Houses, shops and businesses were damaged. Many people including children experience post-traumatic stress symptoms including panic attacks, anxiety and insomnia. Through the Lebanon Joint Response, CARE and its local partner ABAAD provide psychosocial support sessions for adults to help deal with loss, stress and trauma caused by this tragedy.

These sessions focus on the explosion, but also on the consequences of COVID-19. The sessions provide immediate psychosocial support. If necessary, participants are referred to one-to-one therapy. The group sessions are about reconciliation, dealing with violent situations and stress.

A time for healing

Ayla is one of the participants. The explosion forced her to leave her home in the hard-hit neighbourhood of Karantina. It wasn’t the first time she was forced to leave her home. Two years ago she came to Lebanon from Syria. “I’ve gotten used to the sounds of bombs. But the unpredictability of this explosion scares me. I was not expecting this to happen here. We were safe here. I was afraid that there would be another explosion.”

Ayla heard from people nearby that there was a place where she could talk about her traumatic experiences. “I’m here to learn more about dealing with violence and negative circumstances.” “I’m learning what I can do to protect myself financially and physically.”

Ola visits to the sessions with her daughter. She already knew ABAAD before the explosion. During the explosion, Ola did everything she could to protect her daughter, “…it’s fireworks, I told her, hoping she would stay calm. I think about my child’s future all day long. I want a good life for her, but I fear the future.”

Ola says the sessions “helps me to build and strengthen myself…I meet new people. Everyone is treated equally, there is no discrimination here. I have learned how to deal with insecurity and how to avoid violence. I feel safe here. ”

This article is part 2 of a trilogy about the Joint Response project in Beirut. This article focuses on highlight of CARES’ partner ABAAD and Cordaid’s partner Caritas work. The following article will focus on shelter and livelihoods. 

A total of six (6) Dutch organisations are involved in the Joint Response in Beirut. These are CARE, Cordaid, Dorcas, Save the Children, Stichting Vluchteling and World Vision. Below is an overview of the themes these organisations are working on in Lebanon: 
Multi-Purpose Cash assistance: Cordaid, Stichting Vluchteling 
Livelihood: Stichting Vluchteling 
Shelter: Cordaid, Save the Children, 
Protection: CARE, Dorcas, World Vision  
Food Security: Dorcas, World Vision 
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: World Vision 

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