Fatme’s Story: Six weeks after the Beirut explosion UNICEF listens; helping rebuild shattered lives

For every family in Beirut on August 4, there is a story. For those on the explosion’s front line, these stories are often delivered in parallel with tales of desperation, of need, yet sometimes of hope

Simon Balsom
Fatme, 8 years holding a cat
UNICEF2020/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon
22 September 2020

8-year-old Fatme was at home in Karantina preparing to visit her grandmother when the Beirut port explosion hit.

“One of my cousins got hit in the face by flying glass, and another had a large block of debris land on his back – they were both lucky enough to make it to hospital and safety. Our roof collapsed and my mother was screaming, my sister was screaming. My father was at work – and no one knew if he was okay or not. Even now, weeks later, I don’t feel safe here”.

For Fatme, in common with many children in Karantina and across Beirut, the destruction and fear the explosion caused changed their little worlds in so many ways.

“Whenever my sister hears the sound of an aircraft now, she gets scared. And me, well I miss school a lot! I like English, mathematics, and geography. I miss my teachers, I miss learning. I wish we could leave here and go to live in the mountains – everyone says there will be another explosion here”.

Fatme, at the Karantina public garden
UNICEF2020/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon
Fatme reading in her books
UNICEF2020/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon