Beirut Explosion: One Year Later, One Family's Story

A year after a massive explosion devastated the port city of Beirut,  families from virtually all wealth groups in the nation’s capital have been plunged deeper into poverty. The deadly blast, which killed over 200 people and wounded more than 7,000, destroyed a city that was already at the tipping point of crisis. Even before buildings crumbled to the ground, the collapsing Lebanese economy, coupled with COVID, had pushed more than half a million children in Beirut into a struggle for survival. 

Today, as food prices soar out of reach, hundreds of thousands of children in Lebanon are going to bed hungry. Syrian refugees across the country, like Farid*, his wife Lina*, and their children, are among the hardest hit.

Here, the family recounts the story of losing their daughter, Cidra, in the blast – and how, a year later, the Beirut explosion is still impacting their life in Lebanon.

Photo credit: Wissam Andraos/Save the Children 

August 4, 2020: Beirut, Lebanon

Farid*, his wife Lina* and their two daughters Cidra and Mariam* were standing outside their home, watching dark smoke rising from the port. When they started to hear loud bangs like fireworks, they ran back inside the building, but it was too late.

The force of the blast had tragic consequences for the family. Both Lina and Farid were injured, Cirida was killed in the explosion, while Mariam was critically injured. Their two sons, also carry the trauma from that day. 

Photo credit: Wissam Andraos/Save the Children 

Mariam,* age 13

Mariam has especially felt the loss of her sister, as they used to be extremely close. She says she wishes Cidra was still with her.

“In the past, she and her sister were inseparable," her father said. Emotionally, a year later, Mariam is still grieving.

Farid said his daughter's behavior has changed since the explosion and the loss of her sister. 

"My daughter doesn't always listen to me," Lina said. "She raises her voice over her siblings. She has changed."

Photo: Wissam Andraos/Save the Children 

Said*, age 6 and Jad*, age 5

Said and Jad have also struggled in the aftermath of the blast. They say they feel afraid at night and miss their sister.

After the explosion, they found their family injured on the floor below and ran for help. Their family members say they are still coping with their loss and the trauma of that day, and continue to struggle to overcome the mental and physical impacts. 

Since last August, Save the Children has been providing mental health and psychosocial support to the family. 

Photo credit: Wissam Andraos/Save the Children 

Farid*

“To be honest, the past year has been a bitter one,” Farid said. “This year for us feels like every day is that Wednesday.”

Farid and his family originally fled Syria as refugees in search of a better life. After the explosion a year ago, the worsening economic situation in Lebanon has made it difficult to provide essentials, like medicine and food.

“When we moved to Lebanon…at the port we had a room, the children were with us, things were ok,” he said. “Until the 4th of August, when disaster struck.”

In addition to mental and psychosocial support, Save the Children has been supporting affected families in Lebanon with cash assistance programs to cover the cost of basic needs. 

Photo credit: Wissam Andraos/Save the Children 

Lina*

Lina said her entire family is tired, not just physically, but mentally. Their life now is just about getting by.

Even a year after the explosion, her son is still afraid.

“If  he has to go get a glass of water, to drink, he says he is scared. I tell him not to be scared, there’s nothing. But he tells me that he is scared," she said. "They are all scared of going to the kitchen alone.”

* Names changed for protection.

How to Help the Children of Lebanon

 Your donation today to the Lebanon Crisis Relief Fund can help support the urgent needs of children and families in Lebanon. 


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