The response of the Lebanese diaspora to the catastrophe that struck Beirut on August 4th has been as diverse as it has been remarkable. With that said, a particular charitable deed by a Lebanese-British man deserves an honorable mention.
Following the explosion that devastated the Lebanese capital, Eddie El-Lamaa decided that he would contribute to reviving it by cycling a staggering 4,200 kilometers from London all the way to Beirut.
The 38-year-old’s astonishing feat was, in his own words, “like a mammoth of a task.” “Even professional cyclists were saying, ‘look don’t do it.’ Even speaking to the people at the bike shop were looking at me like I was mad.”
To add to the initial implausibility of his endeavor, El-Lamaa isn’t a professional cyclist, and he didn’t even have a bike; he bought one just to finish his astounding journey. In fact, the last time he cycled was during his teenage years!
But even with all odds standing against him, he did cycle from the UK to Lebanon, and he did it in 40 days, pedaling through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Turkey in the process, before taking a ferry to Tripoli and finally cycling his way to Beirut.
Through his passion and dedication to helping his motherland, Eddie El-Lamaa has raised nearly $74,000 that will go to aid Beirut through the British Red Cross Society, which works closely with the Lebanese Red Cross.
However, his target sum is much bigger: £250,000 (Around $323,000), and he is still accepting donations to reach it.
El-Lamaa, who moved from Lebanon to the UK with his parents in the 1980s, told Middle East Monitor he was shocked by the magnitude of the damage that he witnessed first-hand when he reached Beirut.
“It’s not about how I’m feeling, like my emotions going up and down, it’s not about that. It’s about the cause and trying to raise as much money as possible to help the people that obviously are suffering there,” he said.