I know Beirut very well, I have lived and worked there for a Lebanese TV station. This gives me an insight into the Lebanese character and their warmth and generosity. I was not surprised when the community began to pull together to help the victims of the latest disaster to hit this tiny and remarkable country. Joe Baroud, a local plastic surgeon, is a shining example of the Beirut spirit.
More than 200 people were killed and thousands more injured in the explosion at the port of Beirut on 4 August.
Dr Joe Baroud was keen to offer his skills to anyone who left injured or disfigured, to help remove the physical reminders of their trauma.
He started offering free surgery just days after the explosion and was initially seeing 20-25 patients a day. Dr Baroud said: ‘I saw patients with major injuries on the first few days and quite a few glass injuries.
‘I don’t call this work reconstructive, but there is a reconstructive element within its essence, as it gives back function and can help integrate people back into their life and society, the 33-year-old told Harper’s Bazaar.
“It has been a very sad and difficult time. I wish we could unsee it. Frankly, I thought the new generation would not have to deal with scenes like this, that looks like war,” said Dr Fred Bteich, a neurosurgeon at the Hotel Dieu hospital, which functioned as one of the major crisis centres after three facilities nearer the blast site were ruined.
For those who remember the dark days of the 1980s and Lebanon's civil war injuries and scarring are not a new experience. But for a new generation who have had a fairly peaceable experience the destruction, devastation and senseless injuries is something new to deal with. Another trauma to put on top of financial collapse and international humiliation.
It is wonderful that surgeons like Baroud are on hand to help heal some of the scars of his fellow citizens.
“Psychologically, scars can have a huge effect on people. Lebanon already has so many problems I am happy to help fix this small thing and make people feel better about themselves and stop being reminded of the trauma,” Baroud said.