Dear friends, family and kind strangers,
I have struggled to come up with the right words to convey to you how urgently Beirut needs your help.
On August 4, Beirut was struck by an explosion that destroyed large parts of the city. Its impact was so enormous that it reverberated as far away as Cyprus.
Over 200 people were killed, more than 6000 people suffered significant injuries and dozens remain missing. Over 300.000 people (more than 12% of Beirut's population!) were unable to return to their homes.
But I want to go beyond headlines such as "One of the biggest explosions in history destroys Beirut" and hashtags like #BeirutBlast, behind the almost surreal but excruciatingly real footage of a Hollywood-esque explosion and people walking around bloodied, injured and in complete shock.
This may have happened far away from you , in a place that you probably have never even visited, but it happened to people like you and me.
My entire neighbourhood is in shatters. Geitawi, or what's left of it, is a working-class Beiruti neighbourhood full of kind, hardworking people who always make time for a little chat and can always be counted on to help anyone in need.
But now they need your help.
After days of cleaning up the rubble and the millions of shards of glass, the people in my neighbourhood are now faced with the soul-crushing task of rebuilding their homes, their businesses and their lives without ANY help from the state.
Thanks to the many amazing volunteers that have been showing up every day and a heartwarming neighbourhood spirit, people have somehow managed to get through the immediate aftermath of the most traumatising experience of their lives.
But the world is already starting to forget. I am asking you not to.
Before this life-altering explosion, Lebanon was already in a state of complete economic and social collapse, while going through the same pandemic that all of you are dealing with only without any form of social security from a completely absent and corrupt government, that, on top of everything, is wholly responsible for this tragedy. Over 50% of Beirut's healthcare facilities are now rendered non-functional due to the blast.
Many people in my neighbourhood now have no windows, no electricity, no access to adequate healthcare and, most of all, no hope that their situation will improve anytime soon. Some people lost so much in the explosion that they have not enough money left to get by or even eat properly.
Our corrupt government which resigned a few days ago is still trying to get its hands on any kind of funding and humanitarian relief that arrives in Lebanon through international organisations, which are infamously known for their disproporionate overhead costs. There's NO reason why even the smallest part of your donation, no matter how big or small, should go to paying the massive salaries of those who are already drowning in money when it could pay for someone's badly needed insulin, diapers or bread.
To aid the people in my building, my street and my neighbourhood, I am asking you, my friends and family, and your friends and family to please contribute to this GoFundMe campaign.
Directly donating to individuals or charities is nearly impossible at this time: because of hyperinflation and a complete economic meltdown in Lebanon, the banks are not allowing us to withdraw dollars from our own accounts. The local currency, the Libanese lira, has been rendered almost completely worthless.
However, any funds donated to this campaign will be deposited safely in my personal and secure Dutch bank account count, withdrawn as cash and brought to Lebanon personally by yours truly in the next few weeks (of the goal is met).
Not only will I personally donate every cent to those in my neighbourhood who were affected the most, every person who donated will receive a collection of stories that I will write about every single person (while protecting their privacy, of course) that received a donation from you so you will always remember how a small gesture on your part helped rebuild someone's life.
I can personally guarantee that every donation will go towards (depending on the individual's most urgent needs):
-Urgent repairs (windows, doors, other destruction in homes)
-Urgent bills to ensure people won't get evicted
If any funds from this campaign remain, they will be donated to:
The local chapter of the Lebanese Red Cross and the local Geitawi hospital, which was completely destroyed.
Please consider sparing what you can to help my neighbourhood (pictured above) get back on its feet and bring back a smile on the faces of people who have shown me and each other nothing but kindness and compassion during one of the darkest years that Beirut has ever known. Spread the word!
With love and gratitude,
P.S. If you have any questions about this fundraiser or about the situation in Lebanon in general, don't hesitate to contact me! If you feel more comfortable donating to a known NGO please let me know and I will send you a list of trustworthy local organisations.