METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Less than a week after a massive explosion pummelled the Port of Beirut, the Lebanese community around Metro Vancouver is trying to find ways to deliver help.
The Honorary Consul of Lebanon in Vancouver says besides sending money to the Red Cross, he and his associates are working on sending medication.
Dr. Nick Kahwaji is a dentist in Port Moody and tells NEWS 1130 the Lebanese Canadian Society of BC and the mosque in Richmond are coordinating the effort.
“We are preparing a list of medications needed in Lebanon. We understand the basic needs of medical supplies are not there so we are trying to prepare a big list of medications,” he explains. “And we would like to ask the Lebanese community and their friends to contribute to bring this medication and we will try to ship it as soon as we finish with it.”
He points out medical centres were badly damaged during the explosion.
“Three hospitals were destroyed in that area. So they don’t even have anesthetics and analgesics.”
He says his family members are okay.
“My cousin, she’s an officer in the Lebanese customs and she works in the Port of Beirut, and her husband the same. They were lucky that they finished work at 5 and they left. Thank God they left before, and they are safe.”
He hopes BC will step up to the plate, much like Nova Scotia has, in committing money. Nova Scotia has pledged $1 million.
Meanwhile, a West Vancouver business owner is doing his part to raise funds for his home country.
Michel Ibrahim owns the West Vancouver Barber Shop and has been in Canada for 30 years.
“I have two nieces who live near the Port of Beirut. In the apartment of one of my nieces, the apartment shook and some people fell off their balconies. In Lebanon, because it’s so hot, everybody sits outside.”
His other niece also lives in a high-rise, but farther away from the port. Both of them have had to relocate to a neighbouring town.
“I’m challenging everyone to give money to the Red Cross or you can drop money off at my barber shop,” says Ibrahim.
Over 150 people were killed, over 5,000 others were hurt and about 300,000 have been left homeless.
The federal government has said it will match all individual donations from Canadians to the Humanitarian Coalition – a group of 12 established aid organizations working on the ground in Lebanon – or to one of the coalition’s members, up to a maximum of $2 million.
Canada is directing all of its aid for this crisis directly to humanitarian organizations, not the Lebanese government, to ensure the assistance goes to those in need.