Al Rawiya

Rasha Hamade: Two Years With Grief

“Since August 4th, 2020, 6:07 pm, no survivor of the Beirut blast perceives life the same way they did before. I find it therapeutic to create and live this continuous grief next to others who share similar yet contrasting experiences. I gathered the experiences of survivors living in Lebanon or part of the diaspora and channeled them into a photographic series. At the end of their testimony, I asked for the first word that came to their mind with which they associate the blast. My goal is to illustrate how collective trauma is processed individually, and how much the situation has evolved (or has not) two years after. I thank everyone who went out of their comfort zone and shared such difficult memories to reflect on”. – Rasha Hamade

In this series, we exhibit Rasha Hamade’s work, meant to reflect on the two-year anniversary of the Beirut Blast. She interviewed & photographed survivors and explored the different emotions that they experienced during and following the traumatic event.

Change

“We got to a point where everything changed. Beirut before and after the explosion. Lebanese people before and after. The youth wants to make a change. They’re more sure than ever. What happened is a call for change: we know we are the only ones bound to suffer if everything stays the same.”

– Lara Nehme 

 

Confusion

“Everything that came with this event was confusing. Every bit of it. The fact that it happened on a normal day at the end of summer is confusing. The presence of extremely hazardous material stored in garbage bags with

 fireworks doesn’t make sense. I wasn’t scared. I was confused. My friend who saw me dying was scared but I am sure she was also confused. The fact that even surrounded by loving people, six months later, I was still feeling like I would get relieved if a car ran me over confuses me. This cloud over my head that
makes me feel like nothing matters anymore despite all the good things
in my life confuses me. The voice in my head that goes quiet when I am
triggered by noises confuses me.”

– Nohra Chalouhi

Invincible

“I absorbed the biggest punch conceivable and I walked out of it strong and unbeaten. This does not mean I do not see other victims as superheroes, but it is my way of processing it and getting over it. I felt stronger than this blast. I am glad I overcame it.”

– Dany Hawa

Resilience

“We all got out of it ten times stronger and more insensitive. It is the price of strength. Having the strength to speak up, knowing that you survived an event as dramatic, knowing that you made it stronger than ever. People around you mean so much more. You put things in perspective.”

– Raya Fawaz

Pain

“Not just physical pain, but also the emotional pain of seeing Beirut in the state it was on that day. Knowing that this isn’t a country we can live in in the foreseeable future, specifically on that day. Seeing whatever our parents saw getting wiped away in a matter of seconds. It’s a painful day.”

– Joy Habbouche

Indifference

“The government, expected to lead the role of a country’s parent, makes us feel like orphans. Nobody asks about you. You are nobody. When the French government asked about me, I cried. I didn’t even cry on August 4th. It was the fear and instinct for survival, I didn’t have time to cry or feel anything on the spot.”

– Lina Mokaddem

 

Luck

“With such a huge explosion, so many people got lucky in their individual stories. We heard so many stories of people who made it out very luckily. Two hundred deaths are tragic, but out of this explosion in the middle of Beirut, I 

thank luck that it was not more. Since I came to Canada, I am taking everything more positively. Because of how much Lebanon disgusted me, I am enjoying life in itself now.”

– Ramy Beydoun

Terror

“I thought Israel was bombing. It sounded like airplanes. I asked myself why. That was the first sound. Then the second explosion happened and threw me from the salon to the entry. The table broke in two. My phone fell.”

– Sakina Mokaddem

Victims

“It’s illegal, unfair for us as victims. I differentiate between me, a victim who ended up okay, and others who died. I feel like there is a degree of victims. It is equally unfair to all victims. I see myself as a victim. It is unfair for me, for

every single person present in Lebanon on this day. I never considered
myself a victim before, even with the crisis. It was a new definition of
this word for me. A definition I would not want to know, I wish it to
no one. You feel bad, you see and realize there is worse.”

– Chloé Issa

No justice

“It is impossible for that many people to die and that many houses to
get wiped out without anything happening afterward. People still blame
each other. This person who just lost their child. What do they say? How

do they explain this? Because of this government that does not care a
single bit. I was reading about all of these victims Yesterday. What is
the story we are gonna tell other generations? It just blew up? That’s
it? If that’s it I just feel so angry. It’s just not fair. That’s not
enough of an explanation. It could have been avoided.”

– Rana Ramadan

Al Rawiya Team
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Rasha Hamade
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