Sarab was in constant pain when she came into our offices for the first time. She clenched her hands together as she told us about how much the shrapnel in her body hurt her, and would often look down and avoid eye contact.
The girl sat before us today, after completing her INARA medical treatment, is much happier. “She used to be depressed because of her injuries and didn’t want to do anything,” her aunt tells us. “But now she’s completely different. She’s much more active and is going to school. She also has dreams of becoming a hair stylist in our area.”
Sarab lived with her aunt in Syria. Her family had left to come to Lebanon, and wanted Sarab and her older sister to finish at school before they joined the rest of them.
Sarab was stood outside her house in her village in Syria when she heard the familiar sound that she knew all too well: the noise of a jet coming. She had heard them many times before, but this time she was completely paralyzed by fear. “I couldn’t move to get inside the house. I really wanted to move but my legs wouldn’t work. I just remember my aunt screaming, begging me to get inside, but I just couldn’t.”
After that, Sarab can’t remember anything else. Her next memory is hazy, but she remembers being in the hospital and being in unbearable pain. The bomb had landed near to her, and she was punctured by shrapnel in her back, chest, and abdomen. Her aunt had to call her parents in Lebanon informing them that their daughter was in bad condition in hospital.
The shrapnel used to cause her constant pain
When she got a little better, her parents brought her back with them to Lebanon. They live in a refugee camp in the north of Lebanon. She enrolled in a school, and the parents were thankful that they still had their daughter.
But despite trying to lead a normal life, shrapnel was still stuck inside her abdomen, causing her constant and agonizing pain, particularly when she walked as the shrapnel would press down on her nerves.
Her INARA journey
When we met Sarab, we introduced her to our team of doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). We were told that an operation on her abdomen to remove the shrapnel would ensure that Sarab is no longer in pain, and mean she would be able to walk easily.
On the 31 March 2017 Sarab went in for her operation and it was a success. After attending regular follow-ups for the past five months, she is now much better and the constant pain has gone.
“Before the surgery, I hated my body,” Sarab tells us. “I was depressed by it. But since the surgery I have less scars and I like my body a lot more.”
The pain that she felt also means that she can sleep a lot easier at night. “Before I was hurt in the war I used to love to sleep on my stomach. It was the comfiest! But when I was injured it became very painful to do that. But after the surgery, I can sleep on my front without feeling any pain.” The young girl’s eyes twinkle with happiness as she tells us this. It’s a huge achievement for her and brings her joy.
Sarab’s mother desperately wants her daughter to get the best education she can get. “When I was a child, my mother wouldn’t let me go to school. She needed help in the house,” her mother tells us. “I can’t read and write and I really have regretted this all my life. I felt like my mother didn’t love me enough, and I never want Sarab to feel like this. Yes, I want her to get married and have children, but I want her to focus on her education.”
Sarab loves going to school and is in the eighth grade now. “I can’t pick a favorite lesson as I like them all,” she tells us with a proud smile on her face. When we first met her she told us that she wanted to be a doctor, but did warn that she often changes her mind. Now she dreams of becoming a hair stylist in her area.
Now that her pain has come to an end she can lead a healthy and happy life again. “I’ve become more active and more sociable again. I love to talk to people and learn from them.”
None of this could happen without your amazing donations. Sarab is just one of many refugee children in Lebanon that need your help. Donate today to make a difference to a child in need’s life.
UNICEF contributed to Sarab's treatment.