“My car was parked here. It wasn’t broken as much as my body,” says Ritta Hanna as she walks down rue Pasteur, in the Gemmayzé district. Rita Hanna was seriously injured in Beirut in the August 4, 2020, blast. It is for the first time in a year that she comes back the scene. “The few times I have driven down the avenue that runs alongside the port, I had panic attacks. I have wanted to come back to this neighborhood where I was injured for several months because it is time for me to tame again the space, but I could not find the courage, “she adds.
Ritta Hanna was born and raised in Beirut. On the day of the explosion, she was having a drink after work and before going home, in one of Gemmayzé’s many restaurants.
She got up to go for a walk and that’s when her life changed.
Ritta Hanna, who suffered serious injuries to her arm and foot, has undergone six surgeries since August 4, including bone and fat transplants.
“I still have at least three surgeries left, for one of my toes, my arm, and my right hand. I can barely write,” she says, slowly moving the fingers of her injured hand.
For this first outing at the scene of the drama, Ritta put on a red dress and a matching bandage on her forearm, a bright color as if to ward off bad luck.
“People ask me if I have nightmares at night because of the explosion. Well, I don’t even have to close my eyes to see the images scrolling in front of me, all day long. That day the world turned gray, I saw the stones propelled by the blast fly towards me. I protected myself with my arms. I started screaming, but I thought I was dead. But I also told myself that when we die, we shouldn’t see so many dead surrounding us. I saw lifeless bodies in the street, when I was waiting for help, when men whom I did not know carried me from place to place to take me to the hospital and also on the floor of the hospital where I waited a long time before being rescued,” she said.
“I spent a year between surgeries and rehabilitation. I don’t know why I’m still alive. Every day I ask myself this question, “why I didn’t die?” but as long as I’m still standing, I decided to take charge of my life and to rebuild myself,” she says.
Ritta, who lost her job as marketing director in March 2020 following the economic crisis, started recently to look for work, she is considering setting up her own business. “I also made another decision. Between the port explosion and the economic crisis, many are considering leaving the country. I paid for the explosion in my flesh and blood and my whole life was turned upside down. I can leave but I decided to stay here, with what happened, I am even more anchored in my country,” she notes.
Here’s a link to Ritta’s original story: https://bit.ly/3ycDb0O
And a link to the original video story: https://bit.ly/2Wtn7dk