After the explosion in Beirut, EXPLO checked in with our Lebanese families. We’ve heard back from scores of them and though some of their homes have been destroyed, they report they are safe and made it through the explosion. That said, they wrote about the tragic circumstances and devastation of their beloved city. Many of the letters were touching and beautifully communicated our shared humanity. We share just one of the letters.  Kinda S. shows us why the EXPLO community – why relationships – make a difference. She also shows us how young people can help rebuild the world. Finally, she has recommendations for relief organizations. Our continued thoughts and prayers go out to the citizens of Beirut.

 

Dear Ms.Kelly,

I wanted to thank you for sending such a thoughtful email to my family and I.

I am grateful to be part of such a compassionate and kind community. 

Back in 2013 when I attended Explo@Wellesley, I was nervous to be among nationalities who didn't recognize my country's name and could not even place it on a map. Still, I was met with open-mindedness and curiosity from both the advisors and peers. I felt quickly at ease, sharing stories about my life back home and even inviting some friends to visit. I was proud to be Lebanese.

On the 4th, I felt different. The explosion that rocked my city rendering 300,000 homeless and many dead, had left me saddened and hopeless. That sense of pride I once felt sharing pictures of my city on the quad was gone under the rubble. To make matters worse the country was already struggling to manage the pandemic and a vicious economic crisis. 

Still, minutes after the blast, I received phone calls and messages from friends I met in Explo checking if I was alright. Being part of such a memorable experience at EXPLO reminded me that I have a family on every continent.

Yet after spending 3 days sweeping the shattered glass off the streets and fixing homes that were completely destroyed,I am no longer ashamed. Instead, I am touched by the young adults who took to the streets to volunteer and clean.  With all the misfortune of several wars that left Beirut unrecognizable, and the corruption and negligence of our government that has left every generation scarred and desperate; I am proud to be part of a people that are hungry for change and even prouder to be from a nation that rebuilds itself every time it falls. 

I cannot express how touched I am that you reached out to my family. It is these acts of kindness that keep us hopeful in such a dark time. If you would like to help further, I kindly ask you to forward a few links of NGO's that are requesting aid and donations to the EXPLO mailing list.

Lebanese Red Cross

Beit El Baraka (providing housing and food for the elderly who have lost their homes)

Offre Joi ( helping with rebuilding efforts)

Lebanese Food Bank (providing food relief)

Arcenciel ( helping with rebuilding efforts)

I hope one day we can remember Beirut for its beauty and not the heartbreak we feel today. I am always grateful to be part of your community. I hope you, your loved ones and the rest of the EXPLO family are healthy and safe during these unfortunate times.

With utmost gratitude,
Kinda S.