Saturday, September 02, 2006

One eye-witness view of the war between Israel and Lebanon by CMHS student Dana Bader from Sidon, Lebanon

"Everything was going normal the first half of the summer," writes CMHS student Dana Bader of her summer of visiting relatives in Lebanon. "Everyone was so caught up in the World Cup - siding with Brazil, Germany, Italy, and other countries that participated this year. Then the fun summer everyone thought it was going to be came to a halt.

Suddenly we began hearing about bombings taking place in southern Lebanon on the news. At this point I really did not think anything serious was going to happen because there has been an on going “war” between Lebanon and Israel. Shops began closing, the nursery across the street was empty and quiet for the first time that summer, and people stayed indoors - unlike what we had seen before this began. Bread became short of supply and so did gasoline. Bombs were falling everywhere. All bridges were bombed and rubble was left on civilians, making everywhere unsafe. We heard and saw multiple bombs from our house in Sidon.

A Fine (tissue brand) factory close to our house was bombed. It burned continually for three days. The night it was bombed, we were getting ready to sleep, we heard a loud boom and the house shook. This was about the point that I realized that this was a serious thing, and we probably would not be safe where we were. On July 17 at 10:00 pm we received a call from the American embassy telling us to meet up at a school in Sidon at 9:30 am and that each person was allowed one piece of luggage.

We quickly called the family and informed everyone that we were leaving the next morning. We packed everything we could and spent the rest of the night talking and crying knowing that we had to leave our family in a place that was named unsafe for us, not knowing if we would see them ever again. The next morning we arrived at the school, signed in, and waited for everyone else to sign in. Next we were put on to small buses with no air conditioner and set out to Beirut. This trip usually takes 20-30 minutes, but because of the unsafe roads it took 6 hours, and finally we reached the port of Beirut. There everyone was searched and loaded onto an Orient Queen cruise ship. It took about three hours for everyone to load and for the ship to take off. Nine hours later we arrived in Cyprus. We were taken to a small airport and stood waiting in lines from 7:00 in the morning until 7:00 pm.

Finally we were put on planes that took us from Cyprus to Rome to Philadelphia. There we were greeted by the American Red Cross with food, cold water, telephones, Internet access, and volunteers to help the evacuees get to their destination. From there we rented a van and drove for 25 hours until reaching Shreveport, Louisiana. We were finally safe at home after three days of traveling in a bus, ship, plane, and van with pretty much no sleep. We kept in contact with everyone who was unable to leave Lebanon until finally on August 14th an ultimate cease-fire was put into effect. Currently Lebanon is going through reconstruction trying to rebuild what was lost in this devastating war."

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