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Lebanese-Canadian group raises money while grappling with tragedy of Beirut blast

Last Updated Aug 5, 2020 at 10:48 am EDT

Aftermath of a massive explosion is seen in in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. Massive explosions rocked downtown Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the port, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital. Witnesses saw many people injured by flying glass and debris. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Lebanese-Canadians who watched in horror as an explosion levelled part of Beirut are now working to raise funds for hospitals treating the thousands of injured.

The president of the Lebanese Club of Ottawa says he feels powerless on the other side of the world from family members who were injured in Tuesday’s blast.

Ahmad Araji says his first cousin, his wife and their young daughter live in downtown Beirut and were hit by glass that shattered during the explosion.

He says it’s hard to process the scale of the tragedy, which has killed at least 100.

His group has started an online fundraiser that has so far raised more than $3,700 for the Lebanese Red Cross and hospitals overrun by the wounded.

Araji says the group is also trying to raise awareness about the lack of blood supply in Beirut, because encouraging locals to donate is one of the few things they can do from afar.

“There’s so little you can do from abroad,” he said. “And the country has been going through a lot. This is the last thing the people needed right now, especially with the economic crisis, poverty peaking, the currency crash, COVID.”

He said he’s doing whatever he can to be helpful while his mother country grapples with yet another crisis.

“They need money, they need funds, they need help. They need support — moral support, financial support,” Araji said. “We’re trying to do all of that at the same time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press