Rebuilding Homes and Lives Broken by Beirut's Port Explosion
The Near East Foundation joins Anera’s rebuilding program in Beirut
Thousands of Beirut families lost their homes, their memories and their small businesses after the 2020 port blast. For many of these survivors, the past year has been taken up with trying to recover and heal.
Through Anera's Rebuild Beirut program, we have renovated more than 800 homes, providing safe habitations where residents can make new memories.
Our damage assessment methodology and effective procedures have attracted more partners, including CARE International, Muslim Aid USA and UNICEF, who are keen to work with us to rebuild Beirut and contribute everything from funding and practical experience to hands on expertise and social assistance.
Our newest partner in these efforts to help more families regain their homes and their lives is the Near East Foundation (NEF). The two organizations have long partnered on multiple projects in the region. Since 1915, NEF has helped build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities in the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Africa through community-led economic and social development.
NEF president Charles Benjamin recognized the disaster facing Beirut families. He says, "It has been great to join forces with Anera and together design a joint response that responds to both the immediate and longer-term needs of highly vulnerable, crisis-impacted families and communities in Beirut."
NEF and Anera have also increased financial support to beneficiaries.
One joint project targets Burj Hammoud, known for its sizable Armenian community, and one of the neighborhoods that bore the brunt of the port explosion. Some of the families whose homes have been renovated by Anera and NEF’s teams have agreed to share their stories with us.
Armenoy, a 67-year-old Lebanese-Armenian, was at home with her mother when the explosion destroyed their home and changed their lives. “Thankfully, none of us were physically harmed but this moment brought us back to the tragedies of the many wars and invasions we had witnessed in Lebanon.”
The challenge has been how to rebuild her home and her life. Armenoy works in the office cleaning business, but her income has dropped dramatically during the country's economic downturn. “Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the high exchange rate, it was impossible to repair my house. Without the help of Anera and NEF, I would not have been able to live again in my home.”
Sami barely speaks Arabic but still wanted to give his account of the explosion's effect and how Anera helped. The 91-year-old Armenian from Burj Hammoud was amazed at how his ruined home was rebuilt. “The Anera team repaired all the damage — from the windows, doors, paint, and even the damaged balcony. I live alone and am too old to work. Without the help of the NGOs, I would not have been able to repair my house.”
Silva and her husband were driving near the port when it exploded. The 45-year-old feared for her young daughters, who were at home nearby. Fortunately everyone survived, but emotionally they all still suffer. Silva says her 11- and 15-year-old daughters live in constant fear, terrified by any loud sound.
Having a safe home is key to their recovery but repairing their home was impossible after Silva lost her job at school as the Covid pandemic and economic crisis impacted Lebanon.
“There was a lot of damage to the house, broken glass and doors everywhere. Even some of our walls collapsed." Silva says Anera’s team visited and assessed the damage. "And a few weeks later a construction team started the work. We couldn't have done this without the timely and important help of Anera and NEF.”
NEF’s country director, Ziad Kmeid, agrees that teamwork is key to speedy and effective renovations. "We have combined our programmatic strengths and expertise, providing both humanitarian relief and recovery through technical assistance, shelter rehabilitation, protection, and grant support to help vulnerable people safely rebuild their homes and recover their livelihoods."