Helena’s Story

This is Helena Andraos, a victim of the blast and a true role model

*4th of August 2020, 6:07p.m.*

Georges, Helena’s father, was at the hairdresser’s in Sassine, waiting for his turn, while Helena was watching Netflix in her room.

And then it happened…

Luckily, her father having lived through the war had the reflex to hide under the table and get out of there unharmed. Like everyone else, he thought it was an earthquake or an explosion near him, in Sassine. On his way back afoot to his house, he realised the gravity of this tragic event as Beirut looked like she was in the middle of a war : people were screaming, broken glass was found everywhere, everything was ripped off of its place, shoes and home decorations were thrown on the road, curtains were shattered…

“The closer I was getting to my house, the bigger the damages were. This is when I felt like my daughter was in real danger. I started running to make it on time”, said the father.

Once he reached the building, Georges was under the shock in front of the disastrous look of the surroundings. He started going up the stairs 5 by 5 while yelling “Helena” frightened. But he never got an answer…

Georges didn’t have his keys but thank God the door was open. He struggled to get in since the house was upside down but he managed to find her room and… this is where he found her, like a beautiful beautiful angel fallen from the sky, unconscious on the ground. Everything around her was a mess… and there she was, lying down on the couch in the middle of this chaos… It’s like she was in a nest, waiting to be carried…

Her father, who never thought of seeing his child dead looking, was frightened to death. He yelled and yelled “Helena 3am tesma3ine ?” but he never got an answer… Her heart was still beating though. He didn’t lose hope.

Fortunately, despite the tough emotions he was feeling, he still managed to think and decided to go to his neighbour Victor who happens to work at the red cross. In fact, Georges wasn’t supposed to carry anything heavy since he did a small operation a week sooner. He learned from his neighbours that Victor was currently in Gemmayze so Georges came back and decided to carry her on his own. A few seconds before lifting her up, God intervened again : Victor arrived and started checking if her back was broken and if she could hear him. Then, Georges and him carried her carefully out of the house and then down the stairs.

His car was completely broken but it didn’t matter : all he kept thinking about was his daughter’s safety. With the help of Victor, he managed to get in the car with Helena and drove to Jeitawi hospital without seeing anything through the completely shattered glass.

By the grace of God, they made it safely inside the emergencies. The smell of blood filled the air. All the patients were injured and screaming, except Helena : she was strangely silent and still unconscious. A few seconds later, her right eye started to inflate. Georges decided to call his friend Dr Randa Choueiry who works there and told her about what happened because no one was taking care of her. She immediately understood her case and the danger she was in : she had a cerebral haemorrhage. It was a matter of life and death; every second mattered here. After talking to the nurses, Helena was put in a room in the emergencies and Dr Mohamed Yazbeck started the operation. Thankfully, it was a successful one but the danger was still there.

The next day, she was transported to Serhal hospital. She stayed in intensive care for 9 days. Every day, she made a small progress : she would hold our hands at first, and then she slowly started opening her eyes until she finally started talking without the oxygen machines. The first word that she said was “Jesus”…

A few days later, she started doing physiotherapy exercices in her room in the hospital. She couldn’t walk or even stand on her feet. But day by day, she started progressing and her memory was coming back more and more… Thankfully, the day of the explosion was erased from her memories, which helped minimize her mental damage.

Her trail to recovery wasn’t an easy one nor a short one. But Helena was brave enough to make it and her sweet and courageous soul is something we should all look up to.

We are eternally grateful that she survived the blast, and hope her story and the exceptional person she is will help spread hope to all the victims of the explosion and the Lebanese people.

Helena is the proof that when you believe in yourself, when you believe in God, you can be whatever you want to be.

– Andraos Family

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