Prince Edward Islanders pledge $50k to Beirut recovery

The Canadian Lebanese Association of P.E.I. estimates about $50,000 in emergency relief donations have been raised locally in the past five weeks.

'It's not going to be solved or fixed overnight'

The search for victims continues weeks after the explosion in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon. (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

As residents of Beirut recover from last month's devastating explosion, help from Prince Edward Island is on the way.

The Canadian Lebanese Association of P.E.I. estimates about $50,000 in emergency relief donations have been raised locally in the past five weeks.

"We had a very good turnout and lots of support from local businesses and companies and private donations," said Paul Haddad, an executive member of the association.

The Lebanese association launched its online fundraising campaign within days of the deadly explosion sparked by chemicals stored in a warehouse in the port area of Beirut. The Aug. 4 disaster touched many Islanders personally, particularly in Charlottetown's Lebanese community, where many people still have strong family connections in the Middle East.

"There's a lot of destruction. There's a lot of poverty. There's a lot of misplaced people," said Haddad, who remains in touch with friends and family in Lebanon.

"Some of them had to move from the Beirut area back to their parents' homes in the mountains or small towns and villages."

Paul Haddad serves on the executive of the Canadian Lebanese Association of P.E.I. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Donations to the Lebanese association's online fundraising effort came from local businesses, residents and from local service clubs and municipalities on P.E.I., including Kiwanis, Rotary Club and the Town of Cornwall, according to Haddad. The online tally reached nearly $23,000 earlier this week, when organizers officially closed the fund to donations.

Local restaurants — some of them owned and run by Lebanese Islanders — held their own fundraisers over the past month, as did at least one local church, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Antiochian Orthodox. Haddad estimates those independent efforts raised close to $30,000.

Funds will support non-governmental organizations

The Canadian Lebanese Association intends to send its money to three organizations: the Lebanese Red Cross, and two other non-governmental organizations based in Beirut, Live2Love and Lebanon Of Tomorrow.

"They're going to be distributing food, clothes, supplies, whatever the people need," said Haddad.

The Lebanese association will send its funds to Lebanon in coming days, and aid from P.E.I. will arrive at a crucial time. 

"Winter's approaching. They have to try to get ready for that. And that's why they need a lot of support, especially this time of the year," he said.

"Lebanon has a long road ahead of them for recovery and it's not going to be solved or fixed overnight."

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