Shadi Jalkhi

Beirut has always been a capital open to the world, embracing people from different corners of the earth through the kindness and generosity of its people. Yet, Beirut could not ever find peace, and it suffered from a long series of conflicts and crises, the latest of which was the explosion of the port of Beirut in 2020, causing the death of more than 200 people, injuring thousands, and damaging properties around the city. Among those affected was Syrian refugee Shadi Jalkhi.
Shadi fled the war in Syria and arrived to Lebanon in 1995, seeking stability and security, which he found with a family that welcomed him as one of their own in Jbeil. He worked as a sales representative and supervisor of sales operations.
On August 4, on his way back to the office in Beirut before he would finally go home to his family whom he promised an outing after a long day’s work, Shadi saw a fire at the port of Beirut on the opposite side of the road. Curious about what happened, he stopped to take photos he would share with his friends, but he didn’t know the explosion would reach him, and he would become one of the victims broadcasted by media outlets.
At 6:07 PM, the explosion hit Beirut, and Shadi was injured and lost consciousness for a few minutes, drowning in his blood. As soon as he regained his senses, he called his friend for help. Shadi recalls: “I don’t know how I got to the hospital in Jounieh.” After a couple of physical tests, he returned home suffering from vision loss in his right eye. He underwent several operations in an effort to save his sight, but all attempts failed.
Although Shadi’s life was not free of hardships, receiving the news of the impossibility of recovering his eyesight was devastating. He had to get used to seeing with one eye, and as he puts it in words, “it felt like I aged ten years in that moment.”
Shadi is still receiving treatment and following up with doctors, and the cost of treatment, including the operations he underwent, was estimated at US$ 35,000, which would have been impossible to afford if it was not for the family he worked for, which covered all costs as the Ministry of Public Health only covered treatment expenses on the day of the explosion.
Through his suffering, Shadi calls for justice, accountability, and compensation for the damage he sustained.