16 year old Ibrahim is a hero to his mother. Five years ago, early on in the Syrian war, he heard a huge bang. The ground underneath him shook. An airstrike had landed nearby in his neighborhood. Instinctively he jumped out of bed, aged just 11 at the time, and ran to go and save people who may have been hurt.
He joined a small group of neighbors lifting heavy bits of rubble in an attempt to find those who may have been trapped underneath. His mother watched from the side, proud that her son was doing so much to help. But she was filled with dread at how close the airstrike was to their home, concerned that next time it would be their home destroyed.
The next day, Ibrahim started to have pain in his groin. The pain became completely unbearable as the days passed.
His mother took him to doctors and he was informed that he had a hernia where he was feeling pain. But shortly before he was scheduled to have his treatment at a hospital in Syria, their home was partially destroyed in an airstrike.
“A strike hit the house and I immediately left,” his mother tells us. “It was a fast reaction but I know that it was the right decision for us. The situation had become so bad in Syria and I couldn’t live with the constant worry that I might lose my only son.”
His mother left behind her home and her job. For Ibrahim, it meant that he had to leave the school that he attended, where he was getting fantastic grades and had very close friends. Once in Lebanon, the family lived off savings - but they soon ran out. Paying for an operation on Ibrahim’s hernia was far too expensive, and so he had to bear the agonizing pain every single day. Five years later, he is still in constant pain.
Once Ibrahim first arrived in Lebanon he enrolled in school. But he was bullied by the other children because of the way he walks, because of his hernia. “Ever since then,” his mother explains, “he has hated school.” The bullying became too much for him and so he dropped out of school.
His mother’s savings didn’t last very long, and so Ibrahim decided to get a job to help his mother. He found work as a carpenter. This physical job is very difficult for him, and his mother told us that when he comes back home from work he is often completely exhausted and in a lot of pain.
How INARA will help Ibrahim
When we took Ibrahim to see our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), he was informed that he would need a simple repair surgery on his hernia. If he doesn’t have this soon, he would be at high risk of developing problems with his intestines and bowels.
Shortly after his meeting with the doctors, we ask him if he would go back to school after his surgery, and face those that bullied him? “I want to learn English after the surgery” he told us. “But I don’t want to go back to school.” His caseworker will continue to discuss this with him while he is on his INARA journey, and we hope that he will go back to school and achieve his full potential.
“I wished for him to become an engineer or a doctor,” his mother told us. “In Syria he was an A-grade student. But he is not coping here in Lebanon and I can’t financially support him like I could back in Syria.” His mother looks away from her son when she says this, holding back tears. “I just hope things get better…”