Students from Qatar Foundation partner university talk about their contribution to supporting those affected by the Beirut Port explosion
“It is not the pieces of broken glass inside our house, or the destroyed furniture, or even the damage everywhere that broke my heart. Outside our house, which is only a few kilometers away from the explosion site, the scenes are extremely painful – the hearts of millions are broken with wounds that will never heal.”
Ria Sayadi, a Lebanese student at Northwestern University in Qatar, a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university, talks about the explosion that took place in Beirut a few weeks ago, describing it as “a painful shock”, and how it overwhelmed her with a deep sense of guilt and helplessness as she is so far away from her country, unable to help.
“I watched the explosion video over and over again. I could not believe what was happening. My hand felt paralyzed due to fear, and after several attempts of trying to make that phone call – I finally rang my family. It turned out that they had left the house just before the explosion. And none of them were hurt,” says Ria.
But Ria learned that her cousin has been injured by shards of broken glass. And that was the first time she heard him crying in despair. “Here, we die every day a thousand times,” Ria’s cousin told her.
Ria wonders if she will ever be able to go back to her home one day; she wonders if she will ever be able to have a family whose children can create memories in Beirut. “We don’t know where we are going, and what the future holds for us,” Ria says.
Elyssa Gaddas, another student from Northwestern Qatar, shares Ria’s feelings.
We find ourselves facing a catastrophe that causes the death of hundreds of people, thousands are injured, and homes are destroyed
“At a time when Lebanon is suffering from economic, social, and political crises, we find ourselves facing a catastrophe that causes the death of hundreds of people, thousands are injured, and homes are destroyed.”
Elyssa says she too is worried about the future, wondering if the Lebanese people will recover from the effects of the explosion. She believes the change that young people are leading is the only guarantee that “will help us make our country a better place to live,” she says.
To support Beirut, Elyssa and Ria organized a donation drive for those affected by the explosion, in which students from QF, and Lebanese and Arab residents, participated.
We, along with many QF community members, organized a donation campaign that included medicines, food, and clothes to support Beirut
“As young people, we have to come together to help our society and make a difference. That is why we, along with many QF community members, organized a donation campaign that included medicines, food, and clothes. We sent them in boxes to Lebanon through social workers. We also collected money and delivered it to the Qatar Red Crescent Society which was received in Lebanon” Ria says.
Elyssa says that they donated directly to the Lebanese Red Cross and medical centers in Lebanon and participated in the gatherings organized in Doha to support Beirut, where they lit candles. “We also created a website to collect donations and used our social media platforms to raise awareness about the impact of coming together and showing solidarity in this difficult time.”
To see Lebanese flags everywhere in Doha is an amazing feeling. We feel like we are home
Beirut in Qatar’s heart
Donation campaigns, such as “Beirut in our hearts”, were launched everywhere in Qatar
"The great support provided by the Qatari government to help the Lebanese people made us feel very grateful to the country in which I have lived all my life, and which I consider as my second home,” Elyssa says.
“To see Lebanese flags everywhere in Doha is an amazing feeling. We feel like we are home,” Ria says.
And while Beirut tries to rise from the ruins, and while it waits to heal from its wounds, everyone wonders: What have we done to Beirut? How did we transform this vibrant city to a pile of rubble?
“We, the young people, strive to increase our knowledge and awareness so as to be able to contribute to solving the challenges of our society. And because we believe in our capabilities and have big dreams, we will build Beirut again and restore our beautiful dream," Elyssa says.