Ghassan’s mother beams with happiness in the INARA offices during our final meeting with her. “Ever since I came from Syria, Ghassan has been my main concern. Now he is so much better and so am I!”
The burns on six year old Ghassan’s face were so severe that he couldn’t even close his eyes when he slept. His eyebrows were also burnt off. In addition, the burns had badly damaged his ears - so much so that on the one side he only had half an ear. Now that he has received treatment through INARA, this has all changed for him, and he can live a happier and healthier life.
“This has always been normal for him”
“See, he grew up like this,” his mother tells us. “He does not feel he is different. This has always been what is normal for him. He doesn’t realize what has happened and how he is different.”
But his mother notices the stares. She knows how different he is to the other boys. And despite the fact that she is much happier that Ghassan can lead a normal life because of this treatment, she will never be able to erase the horrifying memories of finding her son injured when she returned home.
The house burnt down
The Syrian war had been dragging on for a long time, but his family didn’t want to let it stop them doing the things that they enjoyed. On the day of Ghassan’s injury, his parents were both visiting their friends who lived just down the road. They left their older children in charge of Ghassan.
As they sipped their tea while chatting with their friends, they heard a huge explosion from a bomb. It rattled the tea on the ground underneath them. They knew it was close. Ghassan’s parents both ran up the street, fearing for their children.
As they got closer they could see that it was their home that was on fire. All of their children were outside the house but Ghassan. The fire was so severe that none of them could get in to save him. The mother wept and screamed for help from anyone who might be able to get inside and save her son. But nothing could be done. They watched and waited, while she hoped and prayed that her son would survive.
Eventually a neighbour managed to get into the burning house. Ghassan was trapped in a corner, unconscious, and his face was completely burnt. They rushed him to the nearest hospital where they were given ointments and creams - but they knew that Ghassan would never lead a normal life again. The burns were severe.
They immediately left their town and the rubble of what used to be their home to a nearby city where they rented one small room for the whole family to live in. But they found that there was nowhere in Syria that they felt safe. The war was beginning to escalate, and they had gotten to the point where even being able to feed their children was becoming a huge financial struggle.
They had relatives who were in Lebanon, and so made the decision to go and stay with them. “We came hoping for a safer life,” his father told us.
How INARA helped
The burns on Ghassan’s face were so tight that it meant he couldn’t close his eyes properly. “Sometimes they would turn so red at night,” his mother tells us. “The air dries his eyes and it gives him so much pain.”
We took Ghassan to see doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), who performed two surgeries on the young boy. The first released the retraction on his eyelids, ensuring that he could close his eyes again. The second surgery reconstructed his ears, which had been badly damaged in the fire, and also grafted new eyebrows.
His mother gushes about the impact that these two surgeries have had on Ghassan. “Wow his face has changed so much. And his character too. Before he was shy and did not have the confidence to go out and play with the other kids. They used to be frightened by him. But thank God, he is better now, and people treat him much better too.”
His mother has registered him in school - although he will have to wait until next year before he will be admitted because the classes are so full. “Before meeting INARA, he didn’t want to go to school, but now he is looking forward to it and can hardly wait for this year to pass.”
“I like to play ball with my friends,” Ghassan tells us. His mother smiles at us as he tells us this, happy to see her son finally confident enough to be able to go out and mix with other children.
Before leaving our offices, his mother tells us: “We are very happy! I am very happy. I pray for you and everyone who contributed to this treatment. Thank you!”