By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Lori Sleiman is a university student at the American University in Beirut.
She and her fellow students have been catapulted into a tragedy of immense proportions.
Lori shared with Sr Bernadette Reis how she and her companions have been helping in the aftermath of Tuesday’s explosion.
Helping as best they can
Lori says she and her friends are trying to join others who are trying to organize efforts to help in whatever way possible. The first day they “joined a group of scouts” who directed them to a hospital that was “completely destroyed.” She describes their efforts to clean the second floor from debris and glass. In addition, they ascertained which pieces of medical equipment could be salvaged.
The next day, Lori and her friends took to the streets “looking around trying to see who we could help.” They ended up going into many homes, “helping many different people.”
People have nothing left
Describing the overall atmosphere, Lori declares that the people are not dealing with fear at all.
“They do not have anything to fear because they literally lost everything. They have nothing left. Literally nothing. If they didn’t lose a family member, they lost their homes. If they didn’t lose their homes, they lost their jobs. If they didn’t lose their jobs, they lost their capital.”
Tiny bit of hope
“People are desperate” she says, “but at the same time when you see how many people are helping, it gives you a tiny bit of hope.”
At the same time, she senses the people want justice, and, at times, revenge.
“We want to clean, we want to help rebuild Beirut. But at the same time, we want justice.”
We want peace
In a separate interview, we spoke with an eye doctor who has been operating on people who have lost one or both eyes due to the blast. Dr Corrine Lahoud expressed the desperation so many are feeling in Lebanon and their hope for peace.
She describes the situation in the “station” in which she is working as “awful”.
“We are scared, we are traumatized.
"We need help. We need this to stop and we need to know what happened because we are really, really tired.”
“We just want to live like you guys. That’s what we want.”
“We just want peace. That’s all we want.”
“We want to be able to live here and stay in our country because we all love our country.”