Nearly two months have passed since Beirut felt the impact the August 4th explosion that devastated the nation. The blast ravaged several traditional communities, many of which are home to high numbers of older residents. The combination of this recovery process, COVID-19, and political turmoil created an atmosphere of isolation for older Lebanese people. The preceding accounts are from older people that are feeling this isolation, collected by HelpAge.
Darwiche Sibliny, 90
Khanadaa’ Ghamii’ area, Beirut
I have two sons, the eldest lives far away from me in Saida but takes care of all my needs. He tries his best to come and see me on a weekly basis, but living alone is not easy, especially with the current situation in Lebanon. I barely leave the house since my son brings me everything I need. I have hypertension. The glass of the windows in the house was broken by the Beirut blast and two doors need to be fixed. Thank God I am physically fine, but until today I still hear the sound of the explosion ringing in my ears.
Syrarpi Kattan, 88
Karantina area, Beirut
I have four children: two daughters and two sons. I live in Karantina with my youngest son who is 66 years old. I am a hypertension patient.
On 4 August, I was alone at my house while my son was at his work in the Karantina area. When the Beirut blast happened, the house started shaking and everything fell, including the glass of the windows and the doors. I was lucky that I was sitting next to the TV in the living room, far from the windows, or else I could have died. My hands and legs were injured.
She was covered in blood; I carried her and ran to more than three hospitals until one of them accepted to take care of her wounds. For a second, I thought that I would lose her
Syrarpi’s son Georges.
My only wish for the upcoming years is to have good health and a government to look after me and all the older people in Lebanon.
Ibrahim Aoun, 71
Khandaa’ Ghamii’ area, Beirut
I have suffered from hypertension since I was 40 years old. My wife is dead and I have five children, all married with kids. I live with my son and his children. I spend most of my income on medicine. I used to do my regular medical check-up at Makassed center next to my house in Bachoura, but after the consultation fees increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis in Lebanon, I stopped going to the doctor regularly. Even though I know that I need regular appointments, I have other priorities nowadays, especially with the increase in prices in Lebanon. I feel that because of all this I am unable to pay due attention to the precautions against COVID-19.
A medical team visited me and did a small awareness session about COVID-19 and the importance of taking precautions, especially for older people with hypertension and diabetes in order to help me know about the virus and take care of my health.