In the six months since an explosion rocked Beirut and traumatized an entire population, Humanity & Inclusion has helped almost 1,000 families.
Since the explosion in Lebanon on August 4, 2020, Humanity & Inclusion and its local partner, Mousawat, have conducted door-to-door home visits in Al Basta and Carantina, two areas affected by the Beirut blast. The teams have provided psychological first aid, rehabilitation care, and supplies.
Coping with trauma
Humanity & Inclusion has a team of 20 people providing in-home psychological first aid, which involves listening to people, acknowledging their experiences, and adopting a kind and attentive attitude to their distress. Each time members of the team visit a home, they encourage people to talk about their personal experiences.
The team works to normalize each person's situation or reaction to help relieve additional stress. For instance, if a person says that they feel too anxious to leave home, the psychologist explains that is a normal reaction and many people feel the same way. Since August, the team has conducted more than 1,500 psychological first aid sessions.
“Since August, we have seen a rise in poor mental health amongst the populations we support and work with," says Caroline Duconseille, Humanity & Inclusion's Head of Mission in Lebanon. "People have been deeply affected by the explosion that occurred in Beirut on August 4. This came at a time when people were already struggling.
"Since 2019, the country has been ravaged by a severe economic crisis," Duconseille explains. "One-third of the employees have been made redundant and half of the Lebanese population live below the poverty line. The cost of repairing damaged homes following the blast has created an additional burden for many households. Basic services such as health services and specialized services for people with disabilities, like rehabilitation centers are becoming increasingly unaffordable. Families are having to reduce the number of meals to feed their families each day. Violence and abuse is erupting throughout the population and is often targeted at the most vulnerable population among them persons with disabilities."
Providing care and distributing supplies
Nearly 350 people physically injured by the blast have received rehabilitation services from Humanity & Inclusion and its partners. More than 250 caregivers have been trained on how to help their relatives living with injuries or disabilities.
Humanity & Inclusion has distributed 170 assistive devices, including 34 mobility assistive devices like wheelchairs, canes, and walkers, as well as non-mobility assistive devices like urinary bags, short-term catheters, gel cushions, and toilet chairs.
100 wound kits were also distributed by Humanity & Inclusion and its partners to people caring for less serious injuries that did not require a hospital visit. Nearly 200 households received 720 hygiene and dignity kits. Everyone Humanity & Inclusion has worked with has learned about ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The teams are also helping to identify the needs and priorities of blast victims, guiding them to local services to meet their basic needs. More than 350 people have been referred to other organizations for help with food, shelter, cash, and medical assistance.
"In response to the explosion on August 4, we continue to prioritize providing people with mental health support and advising people where to find appropriate local services," Duconseille says. "Now, more than ever, we are focusing on responding to the consequences that the blast, the COVID-19 crisis and the economic crisis are having on the most vulnerable populations.”
Header image: A woman from Humanity & Inclusion takes notes while speaking with a victim after the Beirut explosion. Copyright: Tom Nicholson/HI
Inline image: A man holds a crutch while sitting next to a toilet chair he received from Humanity & Inclusion after the Beirut explosion. Copyright: Tom Nicholson/HI