Feature: Chinese groups support reconstruction efforts after Beirut's blasts

Updated: August 24, 2020 Source: Xinhuanet.com
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Hoda Jaafar, a Lebanese lady in her 60's, lives with her family of nine members in a small room in the ground floor of a building in Bourj Hammoud, northeast of the capital Beirut.

The family uses a small space facing their room to store blankets and few other needs in a small closet, in addition to some basic food items in an old refrigerator.

The lady's family uses one small toilet installed behind their room.

The explosions that rocked Beirut's port on Aug. 4 did not spare Jaafar's small living space from damage.

"We were capable of rebuilding our room but we cannot afford to fix our toilet," she told Xinhua.

Jaafar, whose husband is disabled, has one son who does some cleaning work for a monthly salary of 900,000 Lebanese pounds (about 130 U.S. dollars, according to the black market rate for U.S. dollar).

"My son gives me 300,000 pounds a month to feed the family which is insufficient given the hike in prices," she said.

Most of her daughters are either married or jobless and they have no capabilities to provide any financial support to their parents and family.

The explosions that hit Beirut's port on Aug. 4 destroyed at least 8,000 buildings in the city, while 300,000 people have become homeless with many of them unable to fix their houses due to the financial crisis prevailing in the country and the loss of thousands of jobs.

This has prompted several foreign countries to step in and offer their reconstruction support for the most vulnerable families in Lebanon ahead of winter.

Peaceland Foundation and Common Future Fund, two Chinese civil groups, among other international organizations, have been working on supporting both Lebanese nationals and Syrian refugees in their reconstruction efforts following the explosions.

Zhan Weizhen, project manager working with the two groups, has created an online platform to attract donors in China to do the fundraising.

"We have Chinese people donating through our platform. People also check the photos on our social media accounts so they approach me and send money to help with repairing damaged houses," Zhan told Xinhua.

Zhan said she is keen to help the most vulnerable in repairing their shattered glasses and doors before winter.

"I am keen to use my limited budget to protect people by providing them with their basic needs ahead of the cold winter season," she said.

Zhan explained that she is working in cooperation with Sama Center to locate people who are in need for help and support in rehabilitating their houses.

Sama Center is originally an education center, but they also help with supporting the fight against COVID-19 in camps and now, in reconstruction following Beirut's explosions.

"Zhan was providing the Syrian refugees' families with food after the outbreak of COVID-19, but when the explosion happened, we asked her for help in houses rehabilitation so she secured some money for this purpose," Kadriya Hussein, director at Sama Center in Chatila Camp, told Xinhua.

Hussein explained that Sama Center tries to focus on important cases while allocating around 700 dollars for each house.

She explained that some houses require more than 700 dollars while others require less money to be fixed.

"We have started our repair work since Monday and we will hopefully rehabilitate more than 15 houses before winter; our work should be over within one month," she said.

Hussein explained that Sama Center, in cooperation with Zhan, will help in repairing Jaafar's house.

"I am lucky to have been picked by Zhan and Kadriya to fix my toilet and our house's doors before winter," Jaafar told Xinhua.

"My bones hurt so bad during winter; we're lucky to have found someone to help us ahead of the cold season," she added.

Two explosions rocked Beirut's port on Aug. 4, destroying buildings in the capital while killing at least 177 people and wounding over 6,000.

Investigations into the explosions are still ongoing and search for missing people through the rubble has not stopped yet.

Editor: 于慧宸