Sulaiman’s life has changed so much since we first met him in March. When we first met him he told us: “It feels as though my life is over.” The 17-year old sat before us today is now able to do things that just a few months ago he could never dream of. He has also been reunited with his father, who had been missing for years, and he is finally well enough to work in his dream job as a hair stylist.
Doctors told him he would have to have his leg amputated
Sulaiman was injured over four years ago. He had just gone to his favorite bookshop in the city he lived in. He remembers feeling really excited because he wanted to show his friends at school what he’d bought. He was walking home when he heard the familiar sound of a missile. That’s when everything went blank for him.
The next thing Sulaiman remembers is his mother telling him to get up. He looked down and saw that he was bleeding and covered in dust. His mother helped him up and dragged him to the road. She stopped a nearby car and begged the driver to take them to the nearest hospital.
Doctors told him that it was likely he would have to have his leg amputated - although this didn’t happen, much to Sulaiman’s relief. However, his entire body was pierced with shrapnel. “The thing I remember most about that day is the noise of doctors placing bits of shrapnel in a metal bowl,” Sulaiman told us.
The doctors managed to get most of the shrapnel out, but the shrapnel in his right thigh was very deep in and he would need to have an operation to have it extracted.
The attack at his school
Sulaiman went back to school a few weeks after he was discharged from hospital. He was glad to be reunited with his friends, and they helped him get around because he had a severe limp and couldn’t stand up for very long. He was very close to his friends.
“One day my school was bombed.” No emotions registered on his face when he narrates this part of his story to us. “All my friends died. Everyone but me. I don’t want to go back to school now.”
Not long after his school was destroyed and he lost all of his friends, his father went missing. After this his mother knew that she couldn’t remain in Syria. She had almost lost her son twice, and had no idea what happened to her husband. “All that we had in Syria is gone now,” Sulaiman informed us when we first met him.
Homeless in Beirut
“When we first arrived in Lebanon we had no place to stay,” his mother explains. “We slept on the streets next to the sea on the Corniche in Beirut. We would put our clothes on the ground and sleep on them.”
Eventually her brother sent some money to help them out until she could find a job. They found a flat and his mother found some work, but they still struggled to pay the rent.
What INARA did for Sulaiman
INARA was introduced to Sulaiman by Intersos. When he first came in and had a medical assessment with Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) he was worried that they would amputate his leg. “But when he sat me down and explained where the shrapnel was, what they would do to me, and how I will be able to walk normally again after the surgery, I was so relieved.”
Doctors performed the surgery to remove the shrapnel out of his right thigh. Now that it is out, Sulaiman is no longer in constant pain when he walks.
We also referred Sulaiman to Doctors Without Borders. He saw a psychiatrist for a number of sessions to give him the opportunity to open up about the numerous tragedies and traumas that he had survived.
“You provided us with an amazing service,” his mother told us. “He is much more active now, and he is working and can walk and stand properly now.”
Sulaiman has managed to find his dream job now, working as a hair stylist. “I love my job and I’m learning a lot from it,” he says passionately. “I’m also now able to take responsibility and help at home with the bills.”
Three months ago, something incredible happened. His mother was sat at home when she saw a number she didn’t recognize calling her. She answered it, and it was her husband. He had just arrived in Lebanon and wanted to know where they were so he could finally be reunited with them. He had been in hiding in Syria, fearing that he would be captured by one of the many groups fighting there. The family had an emotional reunion, and are so glad to be together again.
Life has changed so much for Sulaiman and his family, and we are glad that we could use your donations to help them, given everything that they have been through.
There are many other refugee families that need our help though, and we can only provide that help provided we get donations. So do something amazing today and donate to help other children like Sulaiman.
UNICEF contributed towards Sulaiman's treatment.