“Right now the world is complaining about how Starbucks’ cup is red, but what about the streets in Lebanon? They’re red right now. Let’s talk about that.”
These are strong words from a Surrey nurse who narrowly missed a suicide bomb attack in Lebanon this week.
Zeina Ayache visited Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut on Wednesday night to visit her aunt – one day before suicide bombers killed more than 40 people, according to reports. Another 200 or more were hurt.
The attack in Beirut, part of which has been turned into a refugee camp, is said to be one of the deadliest strikes the country has had since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, with ISIS taking credit for the tragedy.
Thursday night she turned on the TV to watch the news.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said. “As I looked at where the cameras were recording I saw the exact spot that we had parked our car last night. I looked on and saw the street I was walking on, going to visit my great aunt.”
Just thirty minutes earlier, there had been two terrorist bombers.
“They blew themselves up in the hub of a refugee camp – the same one I was at yesterday,” she said. “One man in the crowd of people saw one bomber and wrapped himself around him to try to save the other people nearby. That man is dead, but his photo is on the news so we can see the face of this hero and know his sacrifice.”
About 40 minutes later, a third unsuccessful bomber was discovered by the crowd and stopped by people before he could achieve his mission.
An hour after that, there were shots again and she watched as the army chased down what they thought was a fourth terrorist.
“We have new Nazis to fear now. ISIS. They have no mercy for anyone. Their life is worth less than their mission to destroy anyone who tries to escape them and anyone who stands against them,” she said.
“These poor people in this country are trying so hard just to live, but even when they escape their own countries they are stalked and still attacked in the countries that they seek refuge.”
Ayache said the experience makes her feel guilty for everything we have in Canada.
“Last year was my first time seeing the refugee camps here (in Lebanon). Kids playing around the tiny shacks they live in. No doors or windows, just metal walls with openings to walk through. The weather is less than 10 degrees Celsius at night and some days. I sleep with two blankets in my dad’s house here. They don’t get that luxury,” she said.
Everyone deserves a safe place to rest their head at night, Ayache stressed.
“They are just people like us. They are mothers, fathers, children. They can work, they can laugh, they can cry, and they need our help. How can we as human beings deny anyone the right to live? I would urge that my fellow Canadians realize that people are dying for no good reason, and we can stop that. We can sponsor families and we can donate food. There are many different things we could do, but nothing shouldn’t be one of those things.”
More than 2,700 Syrian refugees are expected to arrive in Metro Vancouver in the next several weeks, and Ayache urges the public to help.
“Lebanon is less than half the size of B.C. and is housing more than two million refugees and I feel like Canada, one of the largest countries in the world, with more to offer these people, should be doing more for them.”