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“That’s it. The power’s gone for good.”
I’ve been saying this to my partner for the past two months every time the power goes out (which has been happening more than 15 times a day).
Lebanon is running out of fuel, which, of course, means no more electricity. Private generator owners are shutting off their engines for more than five hours daily. For example, at my parents’ place, the power is going out three times: from 5 to 7 a.m., from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Luckily, where I live with my partner, generator owners haven’t completely shut off their engines. But, a few days ago, they did notify us that by the end of this week, there might be total darkness.
We’re making sure to keep our phones charged at all times, and I’m keeping my laptop plugged in just in case the power goes out for more than three hours and I had to use my phone as a hotspot.
Or maybe not. The internet service providers announced yesterday on the news that, soon, the fuel shortages will heavily impact internet coverage.
Every day, I share on social media another post about another restaurant or pub completely shutting down or reducing their opening hours due to the severe power outages in Beirut, the capital. Some of them are offering free coffee and opening their doors to those who want to recharge their electronics or use WiFi, as long as there’s fuel in their generators.
The power outages are forcing some families to sleep on their balconies because they can’t bear the heat in their bedrooms. People might die in hospitals because lifesaving machines might cease to operate.
How ironic. Two years ago, when the financial crisis in Lebanon started, it was believed that within a couple of years, the cost of basic goods, such as shelter, food, drinking water, fuel, and access to medications, would be hard to afford. That was hard to believe. When you’ve lived your entire life having access to most of these things, it’s difficult to imagine you’d one day run out of them.
Fast forward two years, I’m struggling to find my parents’ permanent medications. Every day, we visit four or five pharmacies, but our efforts are to no avail. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a generic drug. If not, you need to come back in a few days.
I’ve been contacting every single person coming to Lebanon from abroad and sending them names of the medications we need. The other day, I accidentally found in the fridge a packet of mom’s medication. Trust me, it was a happy moment. I made sure to visit her the same day and give it to her.
Speaking of which, we can’t just “drop” stuff anymore because, yes, you’ve guessed it right, there’s no more fuel to fill up our car.
Last month, we were invited to a wedding that was 30 minutes away from our place. The gas stations were closed, and the dashboard read 55 km. According to Google maps, our destination was 25 km away. Yes, we can go to the wedding, only if we don’t take any wrong turns or spend too much time in the parking lot.
Today, I’m supposed to visit my mom who’s alone at home since my dad is still in the hospital. Nope. No fuel. Some stations are closed, and drivers have formed long queues near the ones that have opened. Some people are showing up one night earlier and sleeping in their cars to reserve their spots.
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Last year, we hit rock bottom when the massive blast that happened on August 4 rocked the capital, Beirut. The explosion killed, wounded, and traumatized hundreds of people, but our country kept sinking deeper, and deeper, and deeper.
Today, we don’t have fuel.
We don’t have power.
We don’t have bread.
We don’t have medications.
We don’t have milk for infants.
The Lebanese people are dying. As some are saying, this is not a crisis; this is a cold-blooded massacre.
Do you have power at home? Do you have medications in your cabinet? Do you have WiFi? Do you have fuel in your car? Good. Appreciate it.
We don’t appreciate what we have until it’s taken away from us.