“It was the worst day of my life,” Loulou says when she is asked how she was injured. She is very young at just eight years old, but remembers vividly the day, only four months ago, that she was badly hurt when her house caught fire after a nearby airstrike in Syria.
“Ever since that day Loulou has stopped socializing,” her mother explains, describing the psychological impact this has had on her daughter. “She’s become lonely as a result.”
The day of the airstrike
The family had survived six years of war in Syria. It was not easy for them. They lost many friends and family members in those years, but they were determined to stay in Syria, and believed that one day the war would end and that they could live in peace again.
But four months ago, this all changed when a nearby airstrike caused their house to catch fire. As Loulou ran out of the house, scared for her life, her dress caught fire. Her mother wasn’t in the house at the time as she was visiting her sister, but neighbors did their best to put the flames out.
Despite this, Loulou has several burns on her body, particularly on her back, chest, abdomen and hands. “She’s no longer comfortable about her body, and hates going out in public in case people stare at her,” her mother explains to us.
After getting treatment at the nearest hospital to them in Syria, which was completely overwhelmed after surviving six years of war, Loulou’s mother made the decision that the family had to leave. “We were afraid to die. A lot of our house was destroyed by the fire. It was time to go,” her mother says. The family walked from where they lived in Syria all the way into Lebanon.
Life in Lebanon
The family of four soon found somewhere to stay. They share a small room in an apartment, which they share with a number of other refugee families, all struggling to survive. One of them recommended that Loulou should go to Doctors Without Borders in a nearby refugee camp to seek out help. It was they who put the family in touch with us.
We arranged a meeting with our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) who examined the burns on Loulou’s body. They found that the scar tissue on her chest is extremely tight, and as she grows older, this will only become tighter, heavily restricting her growth. They recommended that Loulou would need a scar revision surgery to release the contraction on her chest.
At the beginning of June, Loulou had the scar revision surgery and has since been into AUBMC to have regular weekly follow-ups to ensure that she is healing well. The doctors have so far been impressed with her progress, and are confident that the surgery has been a big success for the eight-year old girl.
Loulou’s family hope that this will give her the confidence to do the things she used to do and feel at ease in her own body.
“Before she loved to play with her friends and cousins in the street but ever since the accident she hasn’t. She tells us that she’s embarrassed about her body, and refuses to go to school because she worries that people will pick on her.”
Now that she’s had this surgery the family are confident that this will have a positive impact on her mental wellbeing. Loulou also mentioned to us that she really believes that the surgery will help her to go out again and socialize with people in her neighborhood.