In response to a massive warehouse explosion that devastated Beirut, Lebanon, juniors Georgio Maroun and Victor Shammas, both second-generation Lebanese-Americans, created the student fundraiser titled Cubs For Lebanon to help raise awareness of and funds for those affected by the disaster.
Shammas said, “We started this event because we wanted to help our country, the country our parents grew up in, and the country we wait to visit annually.”
A warehouse in Beirut had unofficially held a dangerous amount of ammonium nitrate—about 3,000 tons—near its port. Its explosion left a flooded crater about 150 meters wide in the middle of the capital. Upwards of 300,000 people were wounded and left without basic resources for the coming days.
Shammas recounted, “Growing up, I took countless vacations to Lebanon to see my family and experience my Lebanese culture. Hearing about the situation in Lebanon from our parents as I’ve matured has changed my views completely. Waking up to our parents mourning the tragedy that devastated our family’s homeland left us realizing that Lebanon is in dire need of help.”
The nation had already been facing a struggling economy and the unprecedented ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The explosion was the tipping point, and the governmental cabinet had effectively resigned.
Shammas declared, “Their government is corrupt and does not allocate funds towards proper services, such as COVID-19 related healthcare or basic necessities for the poor.”
In cooperation with Lebanon Needs, a non-profit organization providing emergency aid in Beirut, the juniors managed to raise funds to provide necessities such as food, clothing and healthcare to those in need. The organization uses the funds they collect to provide the resources to the families affected by the explosion.
When asked why they collaborated with Lebanon Needs, Shammas responded, “We trust NGOs in Lebanon because they are independent from the government and are the best way to get involved with the heart of Lebanon.”
Lebanon Needs has worked on helping the marginalized families prior to the explosion, but the crisis has strained their funds and resources.
Shammas said, “For years, Lebanon Needs has done it’s best to pick children off the streets and bring families out of poverty; however, during this particularly tough time, Lebanon’s resources are at an all-time low. We are also trying to get the Alumni Club and Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon Catholic Church to help with donations.”
With the help of Jesse Rodriguez, the Director of the Center for Service & Justice, Maroun and Shammas helped impact the people in need and greatly changed their lives for the better. If Cubs want to further help the people in need of Lebanon but cannot donate, they are encouraged to share and spread awareness about this crisis on social media. They can also find more information about donation and assistance on the Instagram page created by Shammas and Maroun: @cubsforlebanon.