With summer looking a little different to usual and planning for a more optimistic Q4 underway, at AusBG we’ve been putting together our events and benefits for the rest of the year. The work to represent Australian’s and our members to the UAE and Australian government continues on, meeting with those who can impact and improve the situation today and into the future.
Importantly, after the tragic blasts in Beirut earlier this month, we wanted to take a moment to reflect and also connect with the Australian-Lebanese community. Our colleagues at the Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Wissam Soubra and Mohamed Hage, have penned the below account of the impact of the blasts.
On 4 August 2020, I woke to the news of a blast in the city of Beirut. News media reported that the severity of the Beirut explosion destroyed many buildings, and was felt many kilometres away.
At first, my thought was with the injured and deceased, and how we may be of assistance. Just like many, I had my eyes glued onto the screen with absolute shock and dismay of the distraction, in a land that had witnessed turmoil for many years.
Watching the screams of a mother trying to find her child among the rubble or the man walking in the streets of Beirut with his bloodied face filled with dust, confused and in a state of shock and disbelief. This added to my eagerness to make a change and help.
Officials estimate the explosion caused up to $15 billion of damages and at least 158 people dead, 6,000 injured and 300,000 homeless. The French President spearheaded a fifteen government leaders at the donor summit, and promised "major resources", President Macron's office said France had received pledges worth $297m, from the summit.
Upon contacting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to offer my skills and assistance as a Podiatrist in the area of wound care, I was reassured that constant meetings was been underway to provide assistance to the individuals affected by the blast, and the Australian government had increased the original donation from two to five million dollars.
Witnessing Australians coming together for support was a great moment; it is at that point that I felt a greater blessing and a sense of proud to be an Australian from a Lebanese descent.
Fellow Australians, young and old, from different professions and socio economic, placing their hands together and providing aid to support the injured and needy that had been impacted by the blast was one great example the beauty of Australia that we live in.
Among the many that supported and assisted was Mr Mohammed Hage, Chairman of (AACCI NSW). Mohammed had been working tirelessly, and liaising with government and non-government organisations to provide aid and assistance to the region.
While a disaster may at times bring the worst out of some people, It is apparent that this disaster brought the best out of people, through their support and generosity.
The Beirut blast, allowed me to contemplate and make further improvements on our action plan, where God-forbid, other disasters to occur anywhere in the world, we Australians, are better prepared, and always willing to assist and support.
Dr Wissam Soubra
Podiatrist & UTS Academic