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Standing with people in Beirut

Since the massive port explosion in August, AFSC has helped local partners provide hundreds of families with food and other critical assistance.

Assembling equipment for Nation Station kitchen initiative in Beirut.
AFSC supported Nation Station in building a community Kitchen by providing them with the needed equipment and invite volunteers to participate in the station activities.   Photo: Ralph Azar / AFSC

 

On August 4, a massive explosion in Beirut killed more than 200 people, injured thousands more, and leveled much of the city. The devastating blast came in the midst of pandemic—and the worst economic crisis Lebanon had experienced in decades. 

As the Jordan country program manager, I want to share how meaningful it has been to our local partners in Beirut to have financial support—made possible by caring AFSC supporters like you— for meeting immediate needs and supporting the difficult work of rebuilding in the aftermath of the explosion.      

In mid-August, AFSC helped partner organizations—Nation Station Youth Group, Right To Play Lebanon, arc en ciel, and Naba’a Civil Society Organization—launch initiatives to provide food assistance, refurbish furniture, and supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to 400 families in communities near the location of the blast. 

Together we have:

Provided meals to affected families
Obtaining food was one of the most urgent needs for many residents forced to flee their homes. In the Bourj Hammoud area, AFSC helped partner organizations distribute meals to 200 families. 

Photo: Ralph Azar 

Supported community members in establishing a community hub
The day after the explosion, a group of volunteers established Nation Station, converting an abandoned gas station in the Geitawi area into a disaster relief center—distributing fresh produce, hot meals, and donated clothing as well as helping residents with cleanup, home repairs, and other forms of aid. 

To support the Nation Station in becoming self-sustaining, AFSC supplied the equipment needed to build a community kitchen. As of Sept. 30, the Nation Station Kitchen had provided more than 6,500 hot meals and was serving about 120 families daily. 

Photo: Ralph Azar

Repaired and replaced furniture for families whose homes were damaged or destroyed
One of AFSC’s local partners, arc en ciel, specializes in projects related to inclusion, rehabilitation, and social stability. AFSC partnered with Right To Play to provide arc en ciel with the equipment needed to refurbish furniture for around 50 families.

Helped community members protect themselves from COVID-19: AFSC also partnered with Right to Play to obtain sewing machines and train a youth group to sew face masks—an initiative that will supply masks to 100 families while providing youth with an opportunity to learn sewing as a life skill.

We know that Beirut faces many more difficult days ahead, and partnerships like these will remain critical to recovery efforts. Thank you for standing with the people of Beirut in this difficult time, helping community members meet urgent needs and sustain efforts to build greater health, safety, and peace for all. 

About the Author

Bilal Olimat is the AFSC country program manager in Jordan.

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