For months prior to the huge explosion which ripped through the port of nearby Beirut, pediatrician Rawane Dagher Tawileh and her husband Philippe Tawileh had been thinking about leaving Lebanon to come to Canada. They stated that they are surer than ever after Tuesday’s terrifying ordeal. On Wednesday morning, Philippe reported that he did not want to live in a country where his children feel threatened. Even though the family of five currently live in Byblos, 40 kilometres away from Beirut, they heard the blasts loud and clear.
Rawane also said that they were all at home, watching TV with the kids. After hearing the explosion, they went out on the balcony, trying to figure out if it had been a bomb but when they turned on the TV, they “started to see images of injured people, of buildings that were destroyed.” Rawane knew that there was a large hospital in Beirut that would have been completely destroyed because it was very close to the blast,” and that “all the hospitals in Beirut [would be] flooded with injuries” so she left to rush to her work, a local hospital. She said people were lined up outside, when she arrived at the hospital, many covered in blood.
She added that parents were carrying their children and some had “immunocompromised children, children that had cancer, who were severely injured because of the blast [hitting other hospitals.]” Also, as some parents had either gotten separated from their children in the chaos or had been killed, there were injured children without their parents. The explosion left hundreds of people trapped under rubble. It created a crater 200 metres wide. Investigators stated that ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical, had been secretly kept at the port for many years before it triggered the enormous explosion. Some port officials have already been placed under house arrest.
When the explosion hit, Rawane’s sister, who also lives in Lebanon, was in a shopping mall. After the explosion, all the glasses in the store came raining down on her and the other shoppers, but she escaped uninjured after sheltering under a table. However, she was traumatized. Rawane also added that the kids are still afraid and the family is worried. Many kids lost their parents, and many parents lost their kids. Rawane admitted that they were among the lucky ones as they had friends who died in the explosion. Though they live in the outskirt of Beirut, people in the capital are really severely injured, and their homes are totally destroyed.
The family is now “very interested in going to Canada, at least for our children to feel safe.” To come to Canada on a more permanent basis, they will need their family ties to help them in their quest. The way out for the family is a job offer for Rawane at a hospital in Quebec. Amid a global pandemic, it is not a simple matter to leave the country. Philippe said his wife is a pediatrician and she has a lot of patients in the hospital. She wants to treat them before she can leave.