Jaden Lawen was shocked when he first heard about the deadly explosion in Beirut. He was on a group chat with many friends that he has in Lebanon. His friends posted pictures and videos of the wreckage left over by the explosion, which killed at least 178 people and left thousands more with injuries. The 17-year-old student at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax, was born in Canada, but he spends most of his summers in Lebanon.
That’s because he has plenty of family back there too. That is who he was worried about when he learned of the explosion. And for good reason, several of his friends were injured and one of his distant relatives is lucky to be alive. “My aunt’s in Lebanon right now, so the first thing I do is text my aunt, and say, ‘Are you OK?'” said Lawen. “I was in shock. I was like, this did not just happen.”
Jaden would normally have been in Beirut in August, but because of the Coronavirus he was home instead; a lucky break for him. But it also meant he couldn’t go over to help with his own hands. So he found something else to do instead.
He partnered with the Canadian Red Cross to start a fundraiser in order to help with Red Cross efforts on the ground in Lebanon. It turns out that there is a strong Lebanese community in Halifax, and also that the people of Halifax remember their own harbour explosion of 1917 very well. “In school, we always learned about the Halifax Explosion, but there weren’t really any videos of what actually happened,” Lawen said. “This was like a current-day Halifax Explosion … it’s just really heartbreaking, and it really hit home.”
These two elements have led to an outpouring of charity which has already raised over a million dollars in other charity efforts; but for Jaden, who’s own page with the red cross, called Halifax to Beirut with Love, was only started on Saturday has already topped his original goal of $20,000.00! He did that in 48 hours. Now there’s a new goal of $40,000.00 which should be very achievable now that the news has started to pick up his story. “Just the support from Halifax is unbelievable. The amount of people that have been reaching out to me, saying, ‘Anything you want me to do, I can help with,’ it’s just been amazing,” said Lawen.
That first 48 hours was almost entirely social media driven, with Jaden using his own accounts like his Instagram to spread the message. What an incredible turnout of compassion and charity. It’s your Good News Story of the Day which you can find here.
Rebecca McLeod, a philanthropy associate with the Canadian Red Cross, said she’s thankful for all of the community support they’ve received since the explosion happened. She also added that donations have come through Jaden’s portal from as far away as Australia; just proving the reach of social media. If you want to show that power then share the message of love on your own social media.
Story and Image from CBC News.