U.S. charities are raising millions following the Beirut portrait bombing

DEARBORN, Michigan (AP) – When Manal Saab heard that a huge explosion had taken place in Beirut, he grabbed his phone and frantically tried to reach his loved ones there.

There was good news she received: Her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law, who both live not far from the port in the Lebanese capital, which was destroyed by the August 4th bombing, were on vacation at the time.

“Otherwise, they wouldn’t have survived,” said Saab, an American citizen who lives near the flint in Fenton, Michigan, but was born in Lebanon.

Knowing that his family and friends were safe, a sense of relief flooded Saab.

However, this has changed rapidly. And his focus turned to a different kind of relief.

Within days, she and her daughter, Rashal Baz Zureikat, a lawyer, set up the Lebanon Aid Project and began asking for help from across the United States.

Santa Barbara, a California-based humanitarian aid organization, Direct Relief has sent more than $ 20 million in medicines, personal protective equipment and supplies to Beirut. More than half of that amount was shipped by airfare donated by FedEx, which also included relief needs from the U.S. Lebanese Task Force and the Lebanese Aid Project.

“People were just waiting to help. They just wanted to be able to give something right away, they wanted all the pain to basically get out and give something positive. “They wanted to turn that negative energy into something that would give them some satisfaction in being able to get to Lebanon somehow.”

The massive explosion killed nearly 200 people and injured more than 6,000 people when 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in a port in Beirut. It has destroyed several neighborhoods, destroying thousands of residential, historic and other buildings. It is believed to be one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded.

The cause of the explosion is still unknown, but it is widely seen as a decade of corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon’s ruling class. He is on top of an unprecedented economic crisis. Poverty and unemployment are on the rise, exacerbated by the coronavirus epidemic. And the medical community has left the doctor while continuing to navigate and keep up with the devastating long-term effects of the explosion.

The nation, once known as a regional center for banking, real estate, and medical services, has sparked serious interest in Michigan, home to one of the largest Arab concentrations outside the Middle East.

U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib “raised a significant amount of money through an email campaign,” the Detroit Democrat said, adding that he even knew of a girl who had brought some cash for bejrutians at a lemonade booth.

“Even if I’m not Lebanese, I’m just an Arab American … I greatly felt the connection to what had happened and the need for help,” said Maha Freij, director of the Center for Arab-American Philanthropy based in Darborne.

The CAAP worked with the ATFL / Lebanon Relief Project to raise funds to support logistics and transportation costs.

Everyone involved in the relief effort says more needs to be done to help Lebanon because, as Saab points out, the situation has changed “from bad to worse” due to the wave of COVID-19 and the strain on post-explosion resources.

“We won’t stop,” Saab said. – Because if we don’t help (who), who will?