“In Lebanon we have the world’s problems! An economic crisis, a political crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic. And as if this were not enough, the Beirut blast has come to put an end to us once and for all!”.
Ritta Hanna was seriously injured on August 4 in the explosion in Beirut. She has a very long way to go before she regains the full use of her arm.
She still bears scars on her face and body. Seriously injured in the explosion of Beirut port on August 4, 2020, Ritta Hanna, who spent ten days in hospital, will have to wait months before she could use her right arm, which, fortunately, has been saved from amputation.
“They took our money from us; they took our work from us and now they have taken our flesh and blood”. This is how Ritta Hanna talks about the economic and humanitarian crisis that has plagued Lebanon for months and about the August 4 explosion.
“In Lebanon we have all the world’s problems: an economic crisis, a political crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic. And as if this were not enough, the explosion of August 4 has come to put an end to us once and for all!” she says.
Ritta Hanna was laid-off from a large company with 60 other employees last March. “For 20 years I have been building a career. Little by little I made progress. With the economic crisis and the beginning of the Coronavirus confinement I lost my job. This lay-off broke me into two”.
A few months later, while walking along Rue Pasteur, she was seriously injured by the Beirut blast.
“A little over two months later, I still see the images of the explosion rolling past my eyes at any moment of the day. On August 4, I went to visit my mother who lives in the Ras Beirut neighborhood. On the way back, I stopped at Gemmayzeh to have a lemonade in a cafe and then I started to walk. I like to take a walk in Beirut, I often do it before returning home to the suburbs”.
“I was in rue Pasteur when everything shattered, the asphalt, the trees, the windows; it felt as if I were in a slow-motion movie. I turned my head to see what was going on and I saw two stones flying. They hit me and I fell on the ground. And then there was gray dust, everything had turned gray. I thought I was dead. I was shouting but no one could hear me. I saw people walking like automatons all gray and covered in blood”.
“I thought I was dead. I told myself that when you die, there are no more colors, there is no more sun and everything turns gray.”
“Someone heard me, carried me and put me on the hood of a car. I saw injured people like me, some had lost their arms and legs. I could see the bones of my right arm in several places. I was so afraid that my wrist would fall from my arm. I held it the whole time. I was bleeding all over. Men passing by took off their T-shirts so to bandage my wounds.”
“Two men carried me, the first to the local Red Cross center and then to the Orthodox hospital where we discovered that the establishment had been destroyed by the blast; another took me to Saint Joseph Hospital, where I waited for my turn to come on a mattress placed on the floor, surrounded by dead and wounded people. I would like to thank these two persons who saved my life but I do not know them.”
Ritta Hanna has had two surgeries on her right arm torn and fractured in four places and on both feet where her ten toes were broken.
It will take her some time to regain the use of her arm, including long weeks of physiotherapy.
“In the area where I was injured, a very small area, 45 people died. In the cafe where I was having lemonade, two people lost their lives. I was saved miraculously. I think I was very lucky. I have not yet been to the place where it all happened.”
“The first time I went to Beirut just over a week ago I was scared. I panicked and cried. I lived through the war in Lebanon, I grew up under the bombs, but nothing could ever compare to what I saw on August 4th.”
“For what I’ve been through, I feel very peaceful. I spend a lot of time reading and praying. Now, I am relearning to write with my left hand. I’m lucky I am still alive. We have to know how to stand up and move forward!”