Dr. Rania lost everything in Beirut’s blast. After a life caring for others, she now needs our care.
Her home looks bulldozed, her clinic ransacked, her car smashed in a head-on collision. It was as if a tornado, a car accident and an earthquake happened all at the same time. Dr. Rania Sakr struggled her whole life to build a decent life for her family and lost it all in a matter of seconds. Despite living and working only a few blocks from the port, she and her children survived with flesh wounds. But like so many survivors of the Beirut Port explosion, a month later, her family’s scars are far from healed. Dr. Rania has never failed to provide excellent and conscientious care to my family and countless others. Now she needs our care.
From an early age, Rania was determined to fight to achieve her goals. She struggled to pay her way through college and then medical school. She kept fighting to make the difficult transition from French to English medical practice and slowly rose the ranks to a senior position at the Lebanese American University-affiliated Rizk Hospital. That is where we met, a place where I have spent countless nights, rushing my father through the ER to deal with his chronic illnesses and complications resulting from multiple life-threatening surgeries. I was immediately impressed by her strength and calm to deal with his immense pain and impatience and sometimes over-the-top antics and temper. It was only later, after the blast, that I could understand where she drew her strength.
To have come to such a prestigious field as medicine, not through wealth or privilege, but from a small village, during the civil war and as a woman, Rania has no doubt faced her share of challenges. When she and her husband could finally afford a home of their own, they sat for months and years on boxes until they could afford furniture. And due to the recent loss of a brother-in-law, she is also trying to support her sister’s children. Like many Lebanese, Rania had already lost much of her income before the explosion, as the local currency lost 80 percent of its value. But Dr. Rania never changed her prices, and now earns a little more than $10 per visit. “All my life, I have been able to maintain control,” she recently told me from her bombed-out clinic, the hot air blowing in, the wrecked window frames stacked up outside. “Now for the first time, I am lost.”
Rania doesn’t know how she will pay for the damages. The cost of fixing the windows in her clinic is estimated at $3,000. Hyper-inflation means she will have to treat hundreds of patients just to cover the glass alone. There are tens of thousands of dollars in more damages both to her home, which has been gutted (walls, furniture, appliances, washing machine, AC–all destroyed) as well as her husband’s office, which was located at the port of Beirut and is now largely obliterated. Although the family was struggling before the blast, they were able to string together enough funds to finance a car for their son. Two weeks after the purchase, it was destroyed in the blast as well.
I have called many non-profits active in the port area, but none have been able to help Dr. Rania. Ironically, some have said her damages are too great for assistance. Apparently some donors are only focusing on minor damages that can be quickly repaired. She wonders how so much money has poured into relief efforts but she has seen no help at all.
I know I won’t be able to restore Dr. Rania’s life with this campaign. But with the winter approaching I am hoping we can at least help patch up enough furnishings to make her home somewhat livable. I hope that with your help, we can at least give her some support in the long road ahead, and so that she doesn’t have to face her latest life challenge alone.