Marwan Chamouni, married with two daughters, one of whom lives with a disability, was back at work on August 3, 2020, after a one-week vacation with his family.
August 4, 2020 was a normal working day for him and his colleagues at the port of Beirut. In fact, Marwan, whose work involves ships, works for a full week, and he is then off for a week afterwards, and so on. He never thought a normal working day would turn into a war scene.
Marwan barely remembers the events of that day because he lost consciousness and only woke up in the hospital he was evacuated to. Marwan recalls: “all I remember is that God sent me someone who helped me hold my head skin together; I was in bad shape, my head and neck were severely injured as I was strongly hit by something. I don’t even know what hit me.”
He continues: “Red Cross did not take me in their ambulance as I was a hopeless case, I could die on the way to the nearest hospital… They were being transparent saying they will only evacuate those who can be saved, more precisely, those in better shape than me. They were evacuating a huge number of injured people.”
Marwan understands their point of view and knows his evacuation required specific care, his head was cut open, and his skin was wide open, which probably required special equipment to get him in the ambulance. He adds: “someone I don’t know, and I didn’t meet afterwards, put me on a cart and evacuated me to Khoury Hospital while I was completely unconscious, unaware if I was alive or dead…”
Marwan was in a coma and he was transferred to a hospital in Tyre, close to his home, where he underwent multiple imaging tests confirming his neck and leg injuries. He was well taken care of at the hospital and received the care he needed.
Marwan also received support from the head of municipality and a friend of his… Afterwards, the Lebanese Red Cross supported his first phase of treatment with USD 200 per month, otherwise, he received no additional support, financial or else, but he is still employed at the port of Beirut. However, his ability to work was tremendously affected by the blast, as his job requires high physical strength and tolerance. Today, he can barely hold a 20-liter gallon while he used to hold three or four together, and instead of working himself, he observes his colleagues doing his job.
Marwan is his family’s breadwinner; his salary cannot cover his basic expenses or the medications prescribed by his doctors, and he has no additional income. Due to his health condition, he is unable to find a second job, no matter how comfortable it might be.
Marwan did not get justice; hope is the only thing he resorts to to face the pain and economic challenges of his day-to-day life. The government, which should have provided the medical support he needs, is in a coma and its recovery is probably impossible.