Sary INARA Syrian refugee children Arwa Damon

“I want to wear t-shirts again in the summer,” Syrian refugee Sary tells us. The bright eight-year old boy doesn’t like to show his arms because he has a burn on his right arm that prevents him from fully moving his elbow. It itches him in summer, but he refuses to wear short sleeves even during the hottest days of the year because he doesn’t want people asking him about the accident.

“I was scared. The explosions were so loud”

Five years ago in Syria, early on in the war, Sary and his family were sat at home. They could hear gunfire nearby and so stayed inside. Sary’s mother Wafa tried to distract her children from the noise outside by talking to them and telling stories.

Out of the blue, there was a huge explosion. The war was still in its infancy at the time and so the family were not used to the noise of airstrikes. The ground underneath them shook and all Sary remembers is running away, absolutely petrified by the loud noise. “I was scared,” he tells us. “The explosions were so loud.”

He ran into the kitchen and knocked a hot boiling pot of tea off the stove. It landed on him - covering his face, chest and right arm in painful scars. The family had no choice but to wait for the fighting to pass before they could go out and find help for their son. The whole time Sary screamed in agony.

Sary Syrian refugee INARA medical treatment Arwa Damon

Once the fighting died down the family tried to get to the hospital. However, the fighting around them meant that they were stuck in their area with no access to nearby hospitals. The family didn’t know what to do so took him to a nearby pharmacy who did their best to help, providing Sary with ointments and bandages.

The family did their best to help their son, but by the time the family could finally get access to a hospital, his scars had hardened around his elbow, restricting his movement.

Getting out of Syria

Sary’s injury, and the family’s inability to get medical treatment when they so needed it, forced his parents to reconsider staying in their home. Eventually they decided that they had no choice but to lock their door behind them for the last time, and search for safety elsewhere in Syria.

“We settled in two different areas in Syria before we knew we had to leave our country,” Wafa tells us. “The last area we were in had many attacks and my children were never safe. We had no other choice but to leave behind our country and the war that has taken over our lives.”

How INARA can help

Sary’s case was referred to INARA in December. We took him to meet with doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) who informed us that he would need a surgery to release the scarring on his elbow. This would free up his movement and ensure that he has full functionality of his arm again.

This would mean a lot for Sary. “If I could move my arm properly again I don’t think I’d be ashamed of my injury anymore,” he tells us. "I will feel that I am similar to all the other children in my class. I’d be able to do all the activities that my friends and brothers do. I love playing with my two brothers but sometimes I can’t do the same things as them because of my elbow.”

Sary’s future

Sary is an intelligent eight-year old. He is learning English at school and was more than happy to practice with INARA staff. “I’m fine, thank you for asking,” he replies to us when we ask him how he is in English.

He also has big dreams for his future. “I want to be a pilot so that I can make lots of money and buy a Ferrari he tells us.” His mother laughs when he says this, adding: “I wish nothing for the best for all of my family. I wish that our situation changes and that I will be able to help him and support him to achieve his dreams.”