Like many of the children that we work with at INARA, Zeinab’s injury was a result of a burn sustained from living as a refugee. When her accident happened she was one of millions of people in Syria who were internally displaced, living in a tent.
The family would cook outside. They had a small gas canister filled with kerosene, which they would cook with. As the mother applied the flame, there was a small explosion. Their tent caught fire while Zeinab was stuck inside. Her mother managed to get her out of the tent, but by this time Zeinab’s hand had already been burnt.
The parents later understood that the canister they bought had been filled with gasoline instead of kerosene due to fuel shortages as a result of the war.
After the accident, the family desperately looked for medical help in Syria. Because of the severity of Zeinab’s burns, she needed a number of surgeries. The family managed to find medical treatment for their small daughter, but as the fighting in Syria intensified, they had to make a choice: stay and risk their lives so Zeinab can get the treatment that she needs; or flee their homeland to try to find safety in Lebanon.
The desperate search for help
The family came to Lebanon at the start of 2016. They searched desperately to find someone who could help to perform one last surgery that Zeinab needed on her hand.
At the time, her fingers on her right hand were fused together from the burns. This impaired her mobility and meant that, when it came to her going to school, she would struggle to hold a pen, write or draw.
In September, we met Zeinab and her family. We took her to see our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), who informed us that she would need a surgery on her hands to separate her fingers.
After her surgery and months of follow up at AUBMC, Zeinab’s hand is now fully dextrous. “We have seen great improvement,” her mother told us. “She can move her fingers again and she’s much happier.”
The change that we see in Zeinab is dramatic. When we first met her she was very shy. She sat on her own and played with a toy cow and giggled to herself every time it made a ‘moo’ noise.
When we do her final meeting, she is much more confident and socially engaged. Her uncle told us that at home she is very hyperactive now. “She plays with almost everything,” he tells us, laughing.
At one stage in her final meeting, she walks into the main INARA office and says hello to everyone, posing for photographs and giggling as she shakes the polaroid picture we take of her.
Seeing Zeinab injured at such a young age has made her parents so protective of her. She’s still very young and isn’t ready for school just yet, but she will soon start kindergarten. The family look forward to her achieving her hopes and dreams for the future.