Hassan Khchech lost his sight in 1979 during the country’s civil war, and although his life has not been easy since then, he was able to get married and start his own shop in Beit Yahoun selling basic food items to his neighbors. With the help of his wife, he could earn about seven to ten dollars a day – not a lot, but enough to feed them both.
When the bombing started on July 12, 2006, Hassan and his wife hid away in their home. Two days later, a missile hit their house directly, sending concrete down on Hassan. Fearing that the worst was not over and needing medical attention, Hassan and his wife walked barefoot seven kilometers to the nearest hospital. For eight days, the bombing around the hospital grew worse, until the UN organized a convoy and drove those in the hospital to Beirut.
Once in Beirut, Hassan and his wife stayed in an abandoned building that was taking in the refugees from the South. For days, they did not have mats and were forced to sleep on the floor. Hassan had no desire to eat. His memory would come and go and his body would shake from time to time. “I had a nervous breakdown,” he says. To make things worse, his wife received news that her brother had been killed in the attacks. She left Hassan for days in an attempt to find out what had happened. Hassan was alone, blind and in an unfamiliar place.
When the war ended and the two of them returned to Beit Yahoun, the bad news hit them hard. Their home was totally destroyed, and so was the shop that supported them. Hassan could do little more than despair, “I wished that I had died inside that house…it was humiliating.”
When Hassan heard about HFHL, his spirits lifted. “I felt alive again,” says Hassan. With Habitat’s help, he is building a new home. In the meantime, he has rented a small room which serves as both his home and a place to begin a new business. He and his wife sleep in the back of the room, behind a gold curtain, and sell their wares in the front. It is difficult now, but Hassan looks forward to moving into his new home. He is thankful for what Habitat has done for him: “It is like a brother helping a brother…I feel like someone cares about us.”