DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) Tuesday, Lebanon was devastated by a massive explosion that has displaced more than 300,000 people and left more than 100 people dead. Days later, the search for missing people continues and the recovery efforts are rocky as protestors take to the streets to demand better treatment from the government during the tragedy.
The blast was felt for 150 miles. For context, if it happened in Dayton, the explosion would be felt past Toledo, Columbus, Indianapolis, Indiana or Lexington, Kentucky.
For Youssef Farhat, who was born and raised in Lebanon, and his friends the devastation of the blast was felt all the way in Dayton.
“We just felt helpless. The news came on Tuesday, the one-year of commemoration of the Dayton shooting. So it was really hard to feel that our communities were hit twice,” explained Farhat.
Wanting to help raise funds for the Lebanese Red Cross, Farhat and this group of young professionals decided to start a GoFundMe campaign.
“If we were [in Lebanon] we would donate blood, we would be cleaning, we would be volunteering. But its unfortunate that we’re far away,” he said.
But the campaign has already raised more than $15,000 in donations in just two days. To thank the generous donors, Farhat has been hand painting thank you cards with the Lebanese flag on them. He says he was inspired by the art and beauty of Beirut, and the Lebanese artists who are standing strong and continuing to create despite the tragedy.
Since the fundraiser has gotten so large, Farhat is no longer to able to keep up with painting individual cards. However, he and the group are creating a new way to still thank the donors through art.
He says, this is a reminder to him of the sense of community that happens after tragedy.
“When i first thought about Dayton and how the Dayton community came together right after the tornadoes last year…you’re seeing some of that same response happening in Lebanon,” he said.
For more information on the GoFundMe, click here.