Soulayma Zock (Lebanon) on Rebuilding Beirut

Everyday feels like August 4, every hour feels like 6:07:36pm in Beirut. For those who are unaware of the significance of that particular day, the capital city of Lebanon experienced the world’s third largest explosion in history at one of its most crucial port sites. It left much of the city in absolute ruins. “During the civil war of 1975 when I was about 25, I used to run back home just to feel safe, imagine having that taken away from you” cried Joseph as he picked up the last pieces of his house in Mar Mkhayel. I went back home on August 4th  thinking of the children that have to sleep on broken glass and the mothers that are still trying to find their sons. I spent the entire night just thinking about what would have happened to me if I had lost my own home. I decided I had to do something, so I helped start “Renovate Beirut.” This movement has helped over 30 families within a month of the explosion with house renovations and healthcare access. We care about making home feel safe again, and we want Joseph and thousands like him to be able to feel safe in Beirut.

Renovate Beirut is an immediate disaster relief response initiative which focuses on structural and external house renovations. So far, we have demolished hazardous walls and ceilings and built new ones, re-tiled floors, provided new windows and doors, and even secured medications, jobs, and shelter for those affected by the blast.  Here is a glimpse into how we work:

  1. Phase 1: We first map and assess houses that have been destroyed through scouting the streets. The house assessments include an urgency criterion depending on the severity of the case and whether or not an elder or children are living in the space. This phase usually takes a week.
  2. Phase 2: Unemployed carpenters, glass installers and manufacturers, and construction workers from Tripoli arrive on site to take all necessary measurements and further assess the house to plan the required renovations.
  3. Phase 3: This is the final phase whereby installation and implementation occur. Once the renovations are complete, an NGO – March Lebanon – finishes the work with a free house painting.

Sample House: We demolished the old wall and built a new one (we even repaired a wall in the room on the inside). We placed new windows and a new front door!

A house damaged by the explosion
The house after Renovate Beirut organized repairs and March Lebanon finished painting









Soulayma Zock, Lebanon, Global UGRAD 2019-20, Marymount University