Nurses are often underappreciated heroes. They commit themselves to helping others during health crises, and they try their best to make patients forget about their troubles; whatever it takes to make a difference.

A nurse in Beirut, Lebanon couldn’t have predicted the disastrous explosions that devastated the capital city on August 4, 2020. She was working at her hospital when the explosions rocked the city. Even during the tragedy, she managed to save three newborn babies. She protected them with her life, and now she’s a hero we can all aspire to be one day.

The Devastating Explosions

On Tuesday, August 4, 2020, two explosions blasted at the Beirut port, resulting in a death toll of at least 220 people and rising. In addition, over 7,000 individuals have been injured and nearly 300,000 people are now homeless. Their homes have been destroyed, and businesses are no longer in existence.

The explosions were confirmed accidental as a result of negelecting a port warehouse that held 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate; a chemical typically used for fertilizers and as an ingredient to assemble bombs. Shocking footage of the explosions has been shared online, including Twitter.  

Offering Support

Since the explosion, countries around the world have offered their support, including Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, and the United Kingdom. In addition, French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron stated that France planned to send equipment to Beirut.

Macron commented, “I express my fraternal solidarity with the Lebanese after the explosion which claimed so many victims and damages this evening [August 4] in Beirut. France stands alongside Lebanon. French aid and resources are being transported on the spot.”

It hasn’t been easy to repair the city after the explosions. Due to Lebanon’s crumbling economy and health and safety restrictions from COVID-19, it has been difficult for people to distribute supplies to homeless people. Recovery efforts could cost the city of Beirut approximately $5 billion.

Capturing The Horror

In the midst of the chaos, several photojournalists have shared their photographs and video footage of the explosions and the damage. One journalist, Bilal Jawich, was at his home on the outskirts of Beirut when the explosions occurred. Once he realized what was happening, he grabbed his camera to document everything.

“I followed the smoke until I reached the port of Beirut,” Jawich shared with CNN. His professional intuition took him straight to Al Roum, a hospital in the city’s Ashrafieh district. Much of the area was devastated after the blast.

Jawich was amazed by what he saw. He started photographing at the hospital when he saw a nurse emerge from the emergency room. He commented, “I was amazed when I saw the nurse holding three newborns. I noticed the nurse’s calm [behavior], which contrasted the surrounding atmosphere [outside].” As a photojournalist, Jawich felt that he had to learn more about the nurse and her story.

A Saving Grace

The nurse, who has yet to be identified, was working in the hospital’s maternity ward when the explosions blasted through Beirut. She was knocked unconscious, but when she woke up, she found herself carrying these three children. It was a natural instinct, but the nurse was determined to return the babies to their mothers. After the tragic incident, babies and their mothers were separated from one another and transferred to other hospitals.

“The nurse looked like she possessed a hidden force that gave her self-control and the ability to save those children. People stand out amidst these violent and dark and evil circumstances and this nurse was up to the task,” Jawich explained.

However, not everyone in the hospital was lucky to survive. Emergency preparedness and disaster manager, George Saad, informed CNN that twelve patients, two visitors, and four nurses died from the explosions. Eighty percent of the hospital was damaged, as well as fifty percent of its equipment.

Just like the rest of the city of Beirut, it will require a coordinated effort to restore the Al Roum hospital to its original state. The courage and persistence of one nurse, stands as a testament that the job can be done, and is just one story of life and light in the midst of terrible darkness.