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    BAC student Nizar Abou Ezzeh shares his perspective after devasating explosion hits his hometown

    By deancascieri
    Aug 18, '20 1:49 PM EST

    I am from Lebanon and have lived my whole life there. I came to Boston and started the MLA program at the BAC in August of 2019. I was supposed to visit Lebanon during the summer, but due to all the travel restrictions on leaving and entering the United States because of COVID and a second outbreak in Lebanon, I decided to postpone my visit.


    During the explosion I was here in the U.S. We saw the news online. It is hard to describe the feelings. Streets I use to drive on everyday, landmarks and historic Beirut buildings burned down to the ground. The blast killed at least 180 people, injured more than 5,000, dozens are still missing, and 300,000 families have no homes.


    I tried to connect with every single person I know to check up on them, my parents were in the village at the time of the explosion but their house in Beirut, which is a 20 min drive from the port, got slightly damaged, so imagine what happened in the densely populated areas surrounding the port.

    Anyone who experienced the blast closely describes it the same way; first they felt what seemed to be like an earthquake and then the big boom and total chaos. The sound was so loud, it was even heard in Cyprus. People thought they were going to die.


    The explosion hit Lebanon in the worst time possible. Decades of conflicts, wars, and political corruption led to an unprecedented economic collapse in a country where people are already living without the basic essentials like electricity and clean water. The peaceful Lebanese protests that filled the streets of Lebanon, were brought down by the corrupt political system that has been embedded in the country for years, and then this happens. Most of Beirut's major hospitals, already hosting COVID patients, are close to the port area and were severely damaged and could not welcome the wounded.


    Some say it was an accident of negligence others say it was a hit, in both cases it is a crime against humanity.


    As designers, we have the power to guide people towards a better understanding of what really matters in life.


    Today Beirut is a city without a port. The reconstruction projects of the port and major parts of the Lebanese capital after the disaster should engage the Lebanese community in all its aspects.


    Urban planners, architects and landscape architects should work with total coherence and transparency with the people, along with all the expertise needed, so the Beirut port can be open again to the world, and become the city's gate for cultural exchange and economic prosperity.


    We should design to include everyone, respect the environment, conserve the natural resources, and engage the communities regardless of any racial, social, or religious belongings, and mostly learn from the past mistakes and design for peace.


    I would like to thank the entire BAC community for supporting the Lebanese cause. BAC is one of the places that makes us feel that there is still hope in this world. You are helping by sharing the Beirut story and spreading the awareness about the Lebanese youth who will always fight for freedom and justice.


    The Lebanese people do not trust any state institutions anymore. They are relying on themselves, civil activists, and NGOs to get back up after this catastrophe. They are even recollecting shattered glass themselves to recycle and use in rebuilding their homes. Beirut has suffered for years from all kinds of injustices but every time it rises from the ashes.


    For those who want to help, the Lebanese Red Cross is providing medical aid, food, and shelter to people who lost their homes. If anyone would like to donate, it is one of the trustworthy recipients among a few other organizations. Click here for more information on ways to help Lebanon.


     
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The #BACbuzz blog will help to inform, educate, and share relevant and noteworthy architectural and design news happening within the Boston Architectural College and around the Boston community.

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