A harsh summer burdened by collapses that the Lebanese, residents and expatriates, have experienced this year. Majdala can hardly bear the danger of her exile, as she is lover of Beirut with its details, her village Edde in the Batroun region, and all parts of Lebanon.
Usually, Khattar visits Lebanon 3 times a year, and she considers that she is charging herself with love by meeting the family to complete her estrangement with her husband and daughter, where she resides in the Gulf.
Her last visit was on Christmas at the end of 2019, and every time she left Lebanon, she would have begun planning for the next trip.
My daughter prays to Lebanon
The postponement began from April due to the Corona virus, which has destroyed many dreams, and many lives.
Khattar tells Al-Jazeera Net that her people were asking her not to come because the situation in Lebanon is tragic. The decision is difficult, especially since travel requires a quarantine in Lebanon for two days if the "pcr" (polymerase chain reaction) test was negative, and 15 days or more if she caught the virus during the trip.
"But it felt like a slab (stone) was lying on my chest and I want to go and see only my family and friends," Khattar says.
So she was booked for two weeks with her daughter without her husband, knowing that she usually spends about 3 months in Lebanon, and she wanted to surprise everyone and did not inform anyone, and 3 days after her arrival, the port explosion occurred, so she was seized on the first returning plane for fear of deteriorating conditions and closing the airport.
Khattar says, "Although we did not hear the explosion in the village, we did not sleep since then. I made my daughter Marietta (4 years old) watch the video, and I asked her to pray for Lebanon and the victims."
She added that on the way back to her west she cried a lot, especially after seeing what happened in Beirut closely, as if it were another city, and until now she feels the weight of what happened and is very sad. "I do not know when the situation will improve and we can visit Lebanon, except for the suffocating economic crisis that made me cry, and it is much more terrible when we see it ourselves, because people think about the situation of the country even if they are able to buy bread."
We only have sadness
Ina Gilbert lives in Paris, she tells Al-Jazeera Net that she usually does not go to Beirut in the summer because of the heavy congestion and the high temperature, so she chooses other times. She says that this year is different, "my parents alone are not able to travel and see their daughters and grandchildren because of Corona, and I miss them a lot."
The expatriate citizen adds that the explosion changed everything, and that she wants to go to Beirut, where "I need to see with my own eyes what happened, I need to see my family, relatives, and friends. Most of all, I want help."
She was planning to come in the last week of this August to see her people who live in Ashrafieh, and to help people in Gemmayze, to feel that she is part of what is happening, and she feels guilty that she is abroad, but her mother's concern about the virus caused her to reconsider the issue, and continue with her life and work, She notes to Al-Jazeera Net, "I read the news, get angry and sad, but I am not there. I hate this feeling of division between two cultures."
Usually Gilbert comes on vacations to Lebanon with her French husband and children, who will never be Lebanese because of "stupid laws," as she put it.
A small help initiative
Zahraa Karim is married to an American and lives in New York, but she does not miss an opportunity but spends it in Beirut with her family and friends, so that her husband Jonathan loves the city, and they are thinking of buying a house or land in Lebanon.
This year was difficult for them as they were not able to come, it started with the revolution on October 17, the economic collapse, and the closure of the city and its streets with demonstrations, then came the Corona pandemic, and the airports were closed, and her father advised her not to come because the country is "on the edge of the imp." That is, on the brink of an abyss, fearing the security situation. Although he was scheduled to spend two full months in Beirut.
About the harbor explosion, Karim said, "It is our daily (our) places in Beirut, where we should have spent the vacation, from the gym, the public library, restaurants and nightlife in the Gemmayzeh area." She says that even the photos of her wedding were in Downtown, where the bride, who appeared on social media during the explosion, fell to the ground.
Her friends called her to check on the situation of her people in Lebanon after the explosion, and if they needed help. Her father's office was damaged in Hamra, but she asked her friends to help people whose homes were completely destroyed, so she collected about $ 1,800 from 15 people and sent it to Lebanon to distribute to people who lost their homes.
Zahraa considers that the amount is small, but this is what she was able to do to feel that she contributed even a little by helping her countrymen.
We lost everything
Hasna Abu Mujahid tells Al-Jazeera Net, who has lived with her family in Kuwait for 12 years and visits Lebanon at least twice a year, that she came with the family 4 days to spend the holiday on the snow last February, and the spread of Corona was at its beginning.
After that, they returned to Kuwait despite the closure of schools and working remotely, because the precautions taken by the state there are better than in Lebanon. The curfew began with two weeks, but extended to three months.
Abu Mujahid says, "We worked for 12 years in Kuwait and put the lifetime harvest on investment in Lebanon, and the rest is in the bank, and the result is a loss on both sides. The project did not go well with the Lebanese economic and security situation, nor did the money benefit from it, as it is" held in the bank like the money of all people. "
Abu Mujahid added that they have paid the price of estrangement away from the family to secure their future and the future of their children in Lebanon, and the result is nothing.
She asserts that they come to Lebanon and her children cling to it even though they are really suffering "because the minimum rights of the citizen are not available, and unfortunately we no longer see a future for our children there."
One of the main reasons for not spending the summer vacation in Lebanon is fear of not being able to return to Kuwait, as happened to many of their expatriate friends, especially after the increase in Corona cases.
Although Abu Mujahid and her family did not hear the sound of the explosion, and they did not lose any of their relatives, she confirms to Al-Jazeera Net, "But we felt orphaned, and our hearts were broken and we cried, and if we were asked if our people were fine, we would have tears, and the black clothes did not leave us in grief."
"We were not overwhelmed by the July 2006 war as much as this explosion, because we knew that it was an enemy from outside," she concludes.