The scale and scope of Lebanon’s collapse are unprecedented. Hyperinflation, unemployment, and a lack of public (health) services. Small initiatives make a difference in times of need, proves Lebanese dentist Randa Harik (51). When in Lebanon, she provided free dental care to people in Beirut’s old neighborhood of Hamra.
By Arthur Blok
It is these acts of kindness that reflect persons with a big heart. A few years ago, Randa emigrated to California with her partner and daughter. Lebanon was just not a place anymore where she could live everyday life. As for many, for her, the country became synonymous with everything she did not fancy in life.
“Caring for teeth” is a family tradition, Randa proudly explains. She has been a dentist since 1998 and has been close to the dentistry field since she was a child: her mother, Siham, was a dentist, just like her two uncles and aunt.
During another challenging time in Lebanon’s history, in the 1950s, many Lebanese families migrated either to the U.S., Venezuela, Brasil, or other countries in Latin America. Her mother’s family left for Maracaibo, Venezuela, where she completed her education.
Once she graduated, Siham wanted to fulfill her dream of returning to Beirut to open her private practice. Her sibling planned to ultimately join her and open a dental polyclinic in Beirut, which was unheard of back then, but in 1975 the civil war started, and Shiham ended up being the sole dentist in her private clinic.
The clinic in Hamra has been in use for over 50 years; it stayed open and operational even during the dark years of the civil war (1975 - 1990). In this location, her daughter Randa started her career and worked for many years until she migrated to the U.S.A.
Nowadays, she provides free dental care every time she comes back to visit her mother: one week of helping her old clients free of charge. Clients of whom most are in financial need.
Emigrating to the U.S. a few years ago was not an easy step. “It felt that I was betraying my patients whose teeth I have cared for, for a long time. I felt like I had abandoned them and our family’s clinic”.
When the Covid pandemic shook the world, the economy in Lebanon rapidly further collapsed. People struggled, and essential things like dental care became a “luxury.”
As she was visiting Beirut every three to four months to check on her mother, who stayed in Beirut after her father George passed in 2020, she came up with the idea to help out her old patients whose teeth she had worked on for all those years.
“I felt that was the least I could do for them. They were my loyal clients for so many years”, she said. When she visited her mother in April, she sent a message to all her old clients that they were welcome for free scalings and fillings.
She explained that it was a “lovely way” to help out the community, listen to the people, and hear about their hardships and daily frustrations. Randa: “At the same time, it was nice to catch up with those lovely people again, some of whom I have known for over 20 years. I am just happy I could help them a bit.”
This kind of heart-touching story gives hope to the humanity of this tormented Country.
Schitterend verhaal, hoop doet leven en dit soort mensen is een sieraad voor de verscheirde wereld.
Dank voor dit verhaal!
True! I am one of her patients and she called me to come for check up. She refused to be paid. Her kindness was always felt before and after the economic crises. Thank you Randa for your big heart for caring about us! God bless you!
Oh she is the best dentist and human! My teeth miss you. Sad to hear that you left the country!
Randa has always been a person with big heart…im glad she left Lebanon and hope when she visits her mom next time keeps me posted.. 💗
Dr Randa is a beautiful lady inside and out.
She called me and finished all my dental work. Not only was her service for free. She paid for generator fuel and dental products from her own that are scarce in Lebanon.
God bless you and your loved ones Randa.
Randa is a phenominal dentist! I have been going to her clinic for years now, and she never has failed to do an excellent job. One of the best Lebanese dentists I've ever met. It is very true, I recall going to her clinic with my parents and leaving everytime with a friendly argument over not paying. She always insisted not to pay. A truly kind soul
Reply to Anonymous:
I am very touched with your kind words.
Reply to Cynthia:
Thank you Cynthia for your sweet comment.
I am very happy to have seen you and been able to finish the work!
Reply to Marianne:
My Dutch is rusty,
All I can say is
Dank u wel!!!
Reply to Sira:
Thanks Sira for you lovely comment!
I will get in touch!
She has a big heart, may God protect you, Randa
This is so very heartwarming, may more of the likes of her be there for poor Lebanon until the light hopefully shines at the end of the tunnel!