“Yes, I survived a nuclear explosion.” This is how a young Lebanese woman named Layal Jebran titled her story… the story of one day that she and everyone around her will never forget.
August 4, 2020, was a devastating day for Beirut. During and after the Beirut blast was the scariest, most traumatizing moments for a lot of Lebanese citizens. Many survived, many did not, but the effects tarry 2 months later and will probably forever.
Everyone has a story to tell, everyone experienced loss, heartbreak, injuries, trauma… And on the 1st of October, one survivor was finally able to share her story.
It was a ‘normal’ day for the young Lebanese revolutionary and journalist photographer who has gained quite a reputation of work integrity during the Lebanese revolution she was documenting.
“To my surprise, my small hobby turned to become one of the trusted photojournalists in the 2019 – 2020 ongoing Lebanese revolution,” she said.
That day, Layal headed to the Ministry of Energy and Water to cover a protest, just hours before the blast.
The usual conflict between protesters and police took place, but suddenly, it all stopped. A fire erupted at the Port of Beirut.
“It was then when I could see a yellow form of dust waves coming towards me. As the wave approached, you hear sounds of howling winds and pressure like whirs, then, utter silence,” Layal wrote in her blog, “It hit us!”
The explosion happened, and when this young woman asked around about what was going on, everyone was thinking the same thing… “We’ve been hit.”
“Devastation, the magnitude of years of war, in one split of a second,” Layal summed up that moment of horror.
The first fear for anyone going through something like that is the fear of dying, the fear for their loved ones. Then, as Layal and her friends headed home, they discovered the real damage.
Destruction, blood, chaos, death, a city on the ground…
Then Layal went on to speak of harder days… the trauma that follows, the sleepless nights, the panic attacks, the shock, the triggers, the fear, and not being able to perform everyday tasks.
“I know for sure, I didn’t deserve going through this. I know for sure many people did not either, nor did they deserve to get hurt, or lose loved ones, or even die!”
“Children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, friends, and colleagues. We all deserve better, to live in a country that doesn’t give us death before we have ever lived, a country that took my parents’ youth to war and trauma, and is now trying to take mine away. Something I refuse to lean into or do, actively!”
After everything she went through, Layal Jebran, like many other heroes of her generation, refuses to give up. They’ve been through the worst, and now they are not only hoping for the best but preparing for it.
That’s what makes them heroes. They are not just survivors, they are fighters and builders for a better Lebanon.
Layal is a bright Lebanese mind, who indeed does not deserve to have her ambition shattered. She is an impact serial entrepreneur and the president and CEO of Moubarmij among her many other works, projects, and initiatives.
Moubarmij is an e-learning platform that teaches programming via Arabic video tutorials. This Lebanese was named as one of 7 women around the world who Rule the Web by the global organization Internet Society.
She holds the status of Changemaker for the Changemaker Exchange (Dubai), and TechWomen Fellow, an initiative of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
Layal is helping create a country that will develop and value her talents and her fellow citizens’.
And for that reason, because she knew she had to continue, she went back and photographed Beirut after the explosion so that we, and the generations to come, will never forget what happened there on the doomsday of August 4th, 2020.
Layal was also all around Beirut during rescue missions. The most memorable was the one that hooked Lebanon and the world for 3 consecutive days and nights on the Lebanese and Chilean teams‘ efforts in Gemmayzeh / Mar Mikhael.
Layal was there, sharing live to thousands of people from around the world.