All Joud wants to do is play football with his friends...
Like many boys his age, Joud loves football. His eye sparkles as he speaks about his time growing up in Damascus, laughing with his friends as they kicked a ball around tirelessly for hours after school.
Joud is only 17 years old. But already, his favourite activity has been taken away from him.
Rockets rained down around him
Three years ago, Joud headed to the supermarket next to his house. It was Ramadan and his mother realised that they didn’t have any bread for Iftar. Joud volunteered to go and get some.
While he was in the street on the way back to his home, rockets began to rain down around him. Shrapnel hit him, shattering his lower face, and fractured his jaw.
Joud can no longer play football because of his injury. When running, his jaw starts to hurt. He also tries to hide from people staring at him. When he tells us this, he shrugs his shoulders and tries to pass it off as though it doesn’t bother him. But the impact this has on him is clear.
“He didn't sleep at all last night"
Joud laughs and jokes as he talks but when he leaves the doctor's office, his mother, Thurayya, tells another story.
“He seems so happy right now – but you have to understand that he didn’t sleep at all last night. He was so excited to come to Beirut to see the doctors. Fitting a new jaw would change his entire world. It’d fill him with so much happiness.
“After the accident he became short-tempered and less sociable. He suffers from headaches all of the time. He has gone from being one of the most energetic and sociable boys in all of Damascus, to an introvert who isn’t interested in speaking to new people.”
Despite all that he has been through at such a young age, Joud has tried to find other passions in his life, aside from football. One of these passions is poetry.
He sits down for hours, writing poem after poem. His poetry explores his feelings about being displaced from his own homeland, the way he feels being in a strange house that doesn’t feel like home, about being in a neighborhood he barely knows, and about being so far away from his friends. “I can’t wait until the war ends. I just want to go back,” he says.
What INARA can do
While we cannot help Joud safely go back to the home he misses so much, we can work to improve the life that he has.
We took Joud to see doctors at American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). What they found when they assessed his injury is that his jaw could be re-fitted. The surgery required is long and complicated in nature. Doctors will remove part of his leg and implant it into his upper jaw. It will be shaved to create a natural jaw like curvature using a microscope for precision.
What will this mean for Joud?
When we ask Joud what having this surgery would mean to him, his face lights up. He energetically tells us: “I am really looking forward to having my surgery. It will mean that I have the confidence to go out and work and earn my own money.”
Update (May 17, 2016)
At the point of this update, Joud has just been discharged from hospital and is recovering well.
Unfortunately a few days after the surgery, doctors found that there had been a complication which means that Joud will require a second surgery.
As with all surgeries, especially complex ones like Joud's, there is always a risk involved.
Those risks were thoroughly explained to Joud and his family.
Everyone is understandably upset about this development, most of all of course Joud.
But this isn’t the end. Doctors will be doing the surgery again at a point later in the year, once Joud has fully recovered. We will continue to give Joud hope and INARA will support him every step of the way.
In the meantime, we are also matching him and his family with psychological support.