Angels with a mission: at the service of the sick, abandoned amid the rubble of Beirut
Within days, Dr. Rida Zeineddine gathered around him nurses and doctors to treat people who were injured by the port explosions for free. Many of them are elderly, ill with cancer, diabetes, Covid-19 infected and cannot move from home. Join our "In aid of devastated Beirut" campaign.
Beirut (AsiaNews). - Beirut is not giving up: public institutions collapse, the government resigns, deputies leave office in the midst of the crisis. Yet, in the face of the darkest scenarios, forces often far more valid than any government can emerge.
One such initiative, rising from the immediate needs that have emerged and worthy of a film is that of "Angels with a mission" born from the idea of one single citizen, indeed from the sensitivity of a 15-year-old boy.
The association arose out of nowhere last Wednesday, August 5, the day after the explosions. Dr. Rida Zeineddine, was on duty in the emergency room, when the gates of hell were thrown open: serious injuries arrive unceasingly, victims of the explosions that devastated the capital. His mobile phone rings non-stop, Rida has 250 calls which he has not answered because he is committed to saving lives, extracting glass and splinters from bodies, mending open wounds. However, he had to answer the call of his 15-year-old son, Ahmed Zeineddine:
“Dad are you okay? we're fine, we're worried about you ".
"I am at work: many injured people are arriving and we are treating them".
“But dad, who's going to take care of them when they get home? Without electricity, or water, in this heat?".
It was the angel's voice that suggested what no one had thought of. All night Rida could not sleep thinking about his son's question. The next day he decided on his own with his own money to buy what is needed from the neighborhood pharmacy and go to the houses, to treat the people who have left the hospital and are left alone at home, with wounds that need to be disinfected every day.
With heavy exhaustion patent in his voice from having spent the whole day running from one house to another, Dr. Rida tells AsiaNews: "I started alone, then friends and colleagues liked my initiative. And so I found myself joined by many people. In two days I had finished my salary money buying gauze, syringes, sewing threads, disinfectant, betadine and so on. Gradually I found support from friends and relatives: those who brought me a bag, some syringes, some needles and threads, some ointments, some little money. I was no longer alone: in four days we became about fifty doctors and nurses”.
When the civil war ended in 1990 in Lebanon, Dr Rida was 10 years old. He remembers a stolen childhood, an adolescence of reconstruction and deprivation, a youth of false well-being, a country corrupted and robbed by politicians, while so many people clung to the hope of a better life, to a better future, to a better country.
Dr. Rida hates confessionalism, the cause of all the ills in the country. “We treat everyone - he says - no matter what religion or confession they belong to. I have visited Syrians, Palestinians, Filipino servants, Sri Lankans,… I don't just care for the Lebanese: pain and loneliness have no race or religion”.
The patients that Dr. Rida and his friends are caring for are “lonely people, especially the elderly, sick with diabetes and cancer, injured by explosions, sick with Down syndrome, people infected with Covid-19. They are all people who cannot go to hospitals, or do not have the money to go and have the shards of glass removed; foreigners, who are undocumented. Misery is everywhere, hidden, buried like bodies under the rubble, in a deathly silence”.
A silence that has been defeated by social media: “I opened a page on Facebook - he explains - and a profile on Twitter, and I launched appeals for free home care. And people contacted us. I always stress 'free', because many times people don't even have the money to buy bread".
The cases that have struck him most in recent days are first of all that of "an 80-year-old lady, who lived through the Second World War, the war of 1958, the war from 1975 to 1990. She was pierced by broken glass and is alone in her house, on the second floor of a now inaccessible building, with the stairs destroyed and the entrance blocked by rubble. To get there we had to go down from the terrace passing through an adjacent building which is also vacillating. The woman had to receive 400 stitches, but she refuses to leave her home and wants to live there among the memories of a lifetime, which now lie scattered, or semi-destroyed on the floor".
Then there is “a man suffering from diabetes, with an amputated foot who cannot get out of bed. He also had many wounds caused by shards of glass”.
There are many cases, but each one represents a life of unbearable pain, but also of dignity and strong will to live."
“We will continue pooling what strength and resources we have, as long as we can. Here the economic situation is difficult for everyone. We need medical supplies to relieve pain, heal wounds, disinfect sores every day. We appeal for everyone's help ".
In support of the people of Beirut and Lebanon, in support of Caritas Lebanon, AsiaNews has decided to launch the "In aid of devastated Beirut" campaign. Those who want to contribute can send donations to:
- PIME Foundation - IBAN: IT78C0306909606100000169898 - Institution identification code (BIC): BCITITMM -
Clause: "AN04 - IN AID OF A DEVASTATED BEIRUT"
- through the AsiaNews website under "DONATE NOW"