“It’s as if the war hasn’t left me.”
Heavy bombardment near Lebanon’s southern border forced Yola Soueid to flee her home in Dhaira.
Every door slam makes her jump out of her skin.
Settled in a room at the Lebanese-German University, repurposed into a makeshift shelter in Bourj Chemali in Sour, Soueid can finally stand on her legs today.
When L’Orient-Le Jour first met Soueid a month earlier, the forty-year-old was immobilized. Bedridden, she lay on two stacked mattresses on the floor of a school classroom in Sour. She was badly injured by an Israeli airstrike on Oct. 11.
Since then, Soueid has grappled with the physical and emotional repercussions of the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon, which has claimed the lives of some 10 civilians and displaced over 46,000 of the area’s residents.
Soueid did not want to leave her village when the fighting initially started at the border.
“I ended up paying a high price,” she said. Soueid was a contractual English teacher in a high school in Alma al-Chaab, a neighboring town.
“No one cares,” she said.
In the heart of Sour, life is in full swing.
“People are not aware that we are suffering,” Soueid said. “They go to restaurants, to amusement parks, as if nothing had happened.”
‘This war took everything from us’
On the fourth day of the war, Soueid’s family home was struck.
As she walked down the steps of her building with her brother, a rocket hit the roof of the house, causing the staircase to collapse. Soueid didn’t realize she was injured at first.
“I don’t know how but I was just bleeding,” she said.
Soueid’s brother sustained injuries to his back, legs, and part of his face. Amidst the shelling, the family sought refuge in a room and called for help.
Soueid’s two brothers applied compression to her wounds for two and a half hours as they waited for the bombardments to stop so they could take her to a hospital.
“I didn’t think we were going to get away with it,” she recounted. “We looked at each other as if it was going to be the last time.”
When calm was restored, Soueid was taken to the Lebanese-Italian hospital in Sour where she underwent surgery. She remained hospitalized for four days, with the Ministry of Health covering the expenses.
After contracting an infection, Soueid underwent another operation at the end of October, also covered by the ministry.
Despite the ministry’s help, Soueid’s medication bills are rising as her health complications worsen.
“The doctor said it might have been due to my emotional shock,” she said.
Soueid, who is currently unemployed, used to be paid on an hourly basis. Today, she can’t afford to pay for her own medicine.
“It’s up to the state to do it,” she said. “I didn’t carry weapons. I was at home when I was injured. Who will be able to give me back everything I lost?”
Traumatized and forcibly displaced, Soueid said she feels “dead from the inside” and expressed feeling “humiliated.”
“We tell ourselves that tomorrow will be better, but it’s getting worse and worse,” she said. “Sometimes I put things into perspective. I tell myself that we are safe while the Gazans are under the rubble. But we did nothing to deserve this. This war has taken everything from us.”
In Dhayra, the strikes persist almost every day. Seated on a plastic chair, Soueid
scrolls through photos of her destroyed home.
“All I want is to go home, even if it’s to sleep under the stars.”
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour. Translation by Sahar Ghousssoub.