Omar’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
Omar in karantina public garden
UNICEF2020/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon
22 September 2020

At his home in Karantina early in the evening of August 4, Omar saw his brother injured, and house badly damaged. He now dreams of a life elsewhere.

“I don’t want to live in Lebanon anymore – enough. I used to tell my mother that I love Lebanon, but if I’d known something like this was going to happen I’d have wanted to leave long ago”.

For Omar, despite 2020’s year of turmoil – with widespread violent protests in Lebanon and the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic – he still looked forward to a future here.

But now, “I was getting in the car as we took my younger brother to hospital, and I said to myself I don’t love Lebanon anymore. Even if they will rebuild everything and even if things went back to normal, I don’t want to stay in Lebanon.

“I will forget about the things that happened in Lebanon while playing with my friends. I will forget everything. I don’t want to stay in my school – it is completely damaged now. Everything is damaged - even my books got torn to shreds. How I will be able to study again?”