Five year old Layla is a completely different child from the one we met in April. Back then, Layla was shy. When we took a camera out to take a picture of her she started to sob so heavily that we had to quickly put it away to reassure her.

“Layla’s so much better now physically,” her father tells us happily. “But the most impressive thing is how much happier she is now that you provided her with her surgery. It’s shocked us.”

The Layla before us today loves posing in front of the camera. She even tells us that she’d love to be a photographer when she grows up. The medical and social difference we see in Layla is huge.

Life in Syria

All Layla had ever known until she arrived in Lebanon was the horror of the Syrian war. She had never experienced stability or security. Her early childhood was robbed by the conflict.

She was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. Life was hard for them and they often would go for days without food.

One day, her mother was washing her. They had very little water in the camp, so she’d managed to boil some of the scarce water she could find. While this was happening, a rocket landed on a house very close to them. The impact of the explosion caused Layla to fall into the boiling pot of water.

The family panicked and rushed her to a hospital in Syria. She began to get treatment and her burns were healing well. But the war was escalating daily, and, fearing for their lives, the family had no choice but to flee Syria midway through her treatment, making the arduous and dangerous journey across the mountains into Lebanon.

The hospital

The journey took its toll on Layla. She developed a terrible fever and her family took her to hospital where she stayed for ten days. When her father describes what happens next he is visibly horrified.

He tells us, with tears in his eyes, how the nurses refused to remove the dressing on her wounds for a few days, saying that they didn’t need to be changed every day. He insisted. Eventually, after a few days of persisting with the staff at the hospital, the nurses listened to his pleas and changed her dressing. They discovered that the burns had become infected.

“What we saw that day was so upsetting. I’ll never forget the sight,” he tells us.

The nurses asked Layla’s father to leave the room while they treated her. However, from behind the door he could hear her screaming in agony. When he burst into the doors, he saw that Layla was pinned down, while the nurses removed some of her infected skin off her body.

The family took Layla away from the hospital, traumatised by the experience.

They didn’t know who to turn to

The family soon realised that she desperately needed further medical treatment. Her family were desperate and didn’t know who to turn to. This was when we heard about Layla’s case – and that’s when her INARA journey began.

We matched her to our brilliant doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), who performed a surgery on her infected legs to reverse the damage done, allowing her to be able to walk about more freely.

Layla today

“We’re more relaxed as a family now. When Layla was hurt, it was torture for us. We would go to different doctors and constantly get ‘no’ as an answer. Now we don’t have to fret about that.”

She can now fully move her knee. Doctors did warn that, as she grows, she may need a further surgery. But for the moment, Layla is enjoying having her full movement back.

She is also about to go to kindergarten and can’t wait to go! “Before her surgery she was a shy little girl,” her father tells us as he pulls a funny face at his young daughter. “She didn’t like to go out and play with other kids. Now she’s the opposite, and she’s so excited to go to kindergarten.”

The improvement we’ve seen in Layla has been huge. It’s so great to see that the medical treatment we provide for children really does change lives. Together with your help and your support, we can make a huge difference to the lives of refugee children from Syria.