“I wish that Mahmoud could return to the way he was. He was such a smiley and happy child,” his mother tells us. She holds back her tears as she tells us this, while Mahmoud sits quietly beside her, staring out of the window of the INARA offices.
Mahmoud is a seven year old boy from Syria who lives as a refugee in Lebanon. Four years ago, he lived with his family in a city in Syria. The war was a constant in their lives. Every day they would hear the noise of bombs exploding and bullets being fired. They would hear people in the street crying, mourning the dead. They would hear the long silences between explosions, fearing that the next one would be the one that landed on their home.
Food was a scarcity in their city, which was caught between two warring sides. One day Mahmoud’s mother managed to find milk and she was excited that she could treat her children. She came home and boiled the milk in the kitchen. Her children skipped around her, happy to get such a treat.
Suddenly their joy was destroyed with the low rumble of fighter jets overhead. Suddenly the house shook and smoke poured in through the windows as a rocket landed right next to their house. Mahmoud, who was only three at the time, screamed and ran into the kitchen to find his mother. In the smoke and chaos, he slipped and fell, knocking the boiling milk over himself.
Finding help in Syria
As soon as the fighting died down around them, Mahmoud’s mother took her injured son to the nearest field hospital to them. It was a treacherous journey, but his mother knew she had to risk their lives to ensure her son could get the medical help he needed. However the field hospital was full of wounded people from the recent bombings, and Mahmoud’s case was not as severe as the many people who were fighting for their lives there. They advised his parents to take him to another hospital in another city.
So the family travelled across Syria to a nearby city to them to seek out medical help. When they got there, doctors informed the family that Mahmoud’s burns were so severe that he would have to stay in the hospital for a long period. “He was hospitalized for two years,” his mother told us. The family had to relocate to another city during this time.
Coming to Lebanon
Shortly after Mahmoud was discharged from hospital in Syria the family decided to flee their country and come to Lebanon as refugees. Their home city in the two years they had been away had been completely destroyed, and they had nothing to go back to. Where they had been staying near the hospital was also the sight of a lot of violence. “I knew that if I wanted my children to live I would have to get out of Syria,” his mother explains as she strokes her son’s face protectively.
Although Mahmoud was treated in Syria, skin retractions on his left arm make it impossible for him to extend his arm. The family sought out medical help in Lebanon, but nothing seemed to work. However, they were told by UNHCR to contact INARA, and told that we may be able to help Mahmoud.
As soon as the family contacted us, we brought him in to meet our team of doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). Dr Amir Ibrahim informed us that Mahmoud would need a scar revision and skin graft surgery to release the contracted skin on his elbow. He also noticed that mobility was also restricted on the child’s wrist, so he would also need some medical attention on that additionally. The surgery has been booked in for mid-September.
Hope for the future
Finding INARA has been a huge blessing for Mahmoud’s family, who feared that their son would live forever impaired by his injury. “Mahmoud has been traumatized by his injury but we now have hope again that he can lead a normal life.”
His parents hope that he will be able to get a good education in the future. “We want him to grow up to be the best man he can be,” his father says with a proud smile on his face.