Lebanon has always been this one big village. The Lebanese, despite their many differences, are like one big family.
This is especially true during hardships when every single citizen feels involved and goes up and beyond to help his/her fellow Lebanese.
We’ve seen many initiatives and kind gestures rise up from the Beirut explosion. Some were personal initiatives while others were planned and executed by small communities and groups.
However, this one was made by an entire city, and what was said above are the principles that made them begin with this selfless project.
The people behind Beirut Bi Aleb Zahle (Beirut In Zahle’s Heart) know exactly what got Lebanon and the Lebanese through wars, bombs, hunger, besiegement, and other unbearable crises.
Like all Lebanese across the country, what got them through every time is each other.
And now, while Zahle and its residents weren’t physically affected by the Beirut explosion, they are determined to help those who were.
People of Zahle started the project called Beirut Bi Aleb Zahle to help rebuild a street in Beirut, hoping that other cities and towns in Lebanon would step up to do the same.
They have adopted one street that was severely affected by the explosion, and they are currently working on restoring its houses and help the residents and the families.
They are calling on other cities, regions, and entities to do the same, adopting one street each to make the rebuilding of Beirut not only possible but quicker.
Unity makes the strength, says the proverb. And little by little, through this national unity, families of Beirut will have their homes back, people can resume their work, businesses will reopen, and Beirut will reclaim its rightful title as the city of life.
Only then, people could start healing, a day at a time, in a “normal” environment where there is life, not hellish devastation.
When we say that the entire city of Zahle collaborated to make this project happen, it’s no exaggeration.
Several NGOs, groups, engineers, carpenters, architects, painters, designers, and so on, have joined forces to achieve this humanitarian and patriotic goal.
Lara Tamer from Beirut Bi Aleb Zahle told The961 that the initiative was made in order to direct the people on how they can help in a way that can really make a difference.
She said, “Here in Zahle, everyone knows each other. We noticed that a lot of people wanted to help and volunteer. At the same time, a lot of NGOs in Zahle were doing duplicated work. They were all providing the same type of services.”
What this initiative has accomplished is coordination between all those people and NGOs and thus, Beirut Bi Aleb Zahle came to be.
“A lot of people wanted to help,” Lara told The961. “Most of them didn’t exactly know where to go and what to do specifically.”
These people are now focusing their attention on one street in Beirut. They are not only cleaning streets and restoring houses, but one of their other main focuses is to help the families.
“We want to make sure that the impacted families in this street are getting all types of help needed, from reconstructing their houses to providing them with food, clothes, medications, and mental and emotional support. Literally whatever they need.”
These amazing people are trying to provide aid on all levels. Through the donations that they are getting to help those affected by the explosion, they are also supporting the young volunteers who are joining the team.
“In order for that to happen,” Lara Tamer said, “we are going to conduct training for the young volunteers to be able to help and stay safe on site. After seeing how excited the Lebanese youth have been to join, we also decided to conduct workshops.”
“We are trying to engage the young volunteers in every way,” Tamer said. “They learn from us and we learn from them. This way, we are also hoping to motivate them, especially those who can’t find jobs and who are thinking about leaving the country.”
So far, Beirut Bi Aleb Zahle has completed technical and needs assessment of the adopted street. This street is formed from 5 buildings and 75 apartments.
They have also connected with expats and main donors to help them with raising donations and fulfilling their many goals.
So with the help of trained volunteers, technical people, NGOs, and donations, the people of Zahle are doing their patriotic part through collective work in helping Beirut and its families.
This project is so much more than a humanitarian initiative. This is a story of patriotic unity and determination, and it will be a part of Lebanon’s history and the history of its brave people.
So much has been destroyed and lost to that blast forever, but the essence that makes this country great remains strong and alive: the people’s compassionate fellowship and love for their nation.