On August 4, 2020, a fire ignited among stores of ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, resulting in devastating explosions felt for miles. Around 200 people died, and hundreds of thousands were left without safe homes and businesses. As COVID-19 became more prevalent throughout the country, lockdowns made existing economic crises even worse.

With your support, PWS&D has been responding over the past year through partners at the ACT Alliance.

In response to the disaster, cash vouchers were provided to families to purchase food and other necessities. Families and business owners were assisted in rebuilding their houses and shops, allowing people to return home or resume their work.

 A Thriving Business Rising from the Rubble

It’s been more than two decades since Sahar Dbouk first opened her small shop in Basta al-Tahta. Through the years, her earnings from the shop have allowed her to provide for her family and send her five children to school.

This fifty-year old “busy bee”—as her friends like to call her—used to have customers come in and out all day long, buying groceries or treats fresh from the oven. Following the Beirut explosion, which blew out the doors and windows of Sahar’s store, this traffic stopped. Costly repairs were needed, which she couldn’t afford.

Sahar received cash assistance through PWS&D’s response with the ACT Alliance. This allowed her to repair the doors and windows, replace her oven, and fix up and restock her shelves. Sahar’s shop is once again open for business.

Despite the difficulties of the past year, Sahar continues to have a positive outlook. “I advise every woman and girl, at any age, whether in her work or in her personal life, to never give up on her goals and to turn every challenge into an opportunity to reach her dreams.”

Sahar is grateful for the support provided through PWS&D’s response in Lebanon, which touched many aspects of her life. She shares, “with the help and support of this organization, I was able to receive psychological, social and financial support.”

 Supporting Mental Health Needs after the Explosion

Sadly, as in any disaster the Beirut explosions also took an emotional and psychological toll on many people. Psychosocial support provided through PWS&D’s response meant that children, youth and adults struggling to cope could get the help they needed.

Nour is an 11-year-old girl living in Lebanon, whose lifelong mental health challenges became worse following the Beirut blasts.

Her mother explains, “My daughter has always had issues with her anger and impulsivity. This problem increased greatly with the trauma of the port explosion. It was very hard for her to actively listen, and she had a very short attention span.”

Zahra and Nour accessed psychosocial support, from initial counselling sessions to regular follow ups, that made a big difference for both mother and child.

“The sessions had such a positive impact. Prior to therapy, I can’t remember the last time I saw Nour smile. What was surprising for me is that she even came out of the psychotherapist’s office laughing.”

The support has benefited Zahra as well.

“This service not only gave me the chance to understand my daughter, but also to build on my understanding of motherhood.”

Following any kind of traumatic situation, it’s essential to address both the emotional and physical needs of those affected. Thank you for supporting PWS&D’s response in Lebanon so we could help people like Sahar, Zahra and Nour.

Since the disaster one year ago, PWS&D has worked with Canadian Foodgrains Bank and ACT Alliance to provide vital food and non-food aid, including:

  • Food vouchers to allow thousands of households to purchase the food they need
  • Vouchers for small businesses (bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores) for the purchase of reconstruction materials and supplies to support food-security related business activity
  • Rehabilitation of homes and schools damaged by the disaster
  • Water and sanitation kits for households
  • Emergency school kits for boys and girls for their return to school

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