Beirut explosion: Hayat and Amal's stories
60-year-old Hayat lives in Karantina. She was cleaning her balcony when the explosion happened. She said that she started to hear crackers but thought nothing of it and continued to clean, then voices started getting louder.
“I can't remember what happened next. I opened my eyes and found myself lying on the floor of my damaged house. My eyes and head were bleeding, but my only thought was to check on my children. I found them injured as well and together we rushed to the nearest hospital to seek medical help."
Hayat told us that the hospital she and her family went to was destroyed but after a long night, their wounds were bandaged. After all of this they were overwhelmed by fear and could not even return home as it was destroyed in the explosion.
“Now, more than a week after the disaster, all I want is to feel safe. I only want to find safety and peace in Lebanon.”
Hayat explained that life is difficult in Lebanon, even for young, energetic healthy people. She told us that it is impossible to find a job at her age and there is a huge gap in services for older people, especially in the area where she lives where there is little access to health care and poor living conditions.
Amal also lives in Karantina. On the day of the explosion she was sitting with her sister and mother when she started to see smoke rise from the port.
At first they thought it was a fire and continued to chat but then fireworks started to explode and they knew they were in danger. Amal can’t remember what happened next.
“ All I remember is trying to escape with my mum and sister. I woke up in our neighbour's car with blood on my face and body and a broken arm. My children and I walked in search of a hospital, with many other wounded people around us, as if we were emerging from a bloody war.”
Since the day of the explosion, Amal wakes up every morning hoping that what happened was not real but a nightmare. Her house is destroyed and she told us that being an older woman in Lebanon, she barely has access to healthcare and has very few resources. She cannot afford to buy her medicine.
“All I need is my right to healthcare and to feel safe and secure.”