August 4th, 2020 was a special day for Sonia. She was celebrating her 8th birthday party with her family.
Sonia’s parents were trying their best to make it special for her, even though she couldn’t invite any of her friends because of Covid-19. There was cake, there were sparkles, there was a small party. And best of all, Sonia got a brand-new pair of shoes.
After dinner, Sonia’s father, Jonny, had to head back to work at their family restaurant. Sonia and her mother, Georgie, decided to invite their neighbour for birthday cake.
That’s when the explosion in the port of Beirut happened.
Jonny’s frantic calls to his wife kept dropping. All he could do was hope as ran back home.
He arrived to find broken glass everywhere, two injured neighbours in his living room and his wife desperately trying to comfort Sonia.
“There was panic and fear and she was screaming,” said Georgie.
On her own, Georgie had run outside to pull a friend in a wheelchair off the street and inside to safety. The neighbor who had come for cake had her leg broken by the explosion and Georgie was trying to keep her as comfortable as possible. All the while, she tried desperately to comfort Sonia who was inconsolable.
“I was crying and crying, I was scared for my father,” said Sonia.
Georgie and Jonny said they are grateful their little family survived, but deeply concerned about the emotional impact of such a devastating experience on their 8-year-old daughter. Georgie herself barely slept for a week after the explosion. Every little noise had her jumping out of bed, rushing to comfort her daughter.
Sonia was one of many children who were visited by Save the Children. She received an assessment, as well as the opportunity to spend time at a pop-up child friendly space and play with other children.
Sonia was so excited for her first visit she even wore her new birthday shoes.
“We have made friends with each other, we were playing together,” said Sonia. “I was so happy, I want to go and play with them again.”