“Nada is really excited to go to school,” her father, Adnan, tells us while his young daughter plays with toys in the office, giggling to herself occasionally.
The young Syrian refugee is so much happier than when we first met her over a year ago. Then the little girl refused to smile for the camera, and would just look away with tears in her eyes. Now she cannot wait to pose and is eager to look at the happy young girl smiling back at her when we show her the photos.
Nada is four years old now, but was born far from the war zone her parents fled. Her whole life she has lived in a tent.
The family fled Aleppo five years ago. The constant bombings became too much for them to handle, and with his wife pregnant, Adnan wanted to make sure that his newborn daughter would be safe away from the horrors of war.
“We have friends here who sympathize with the misery we’ve been through,” he explains. “We came to Lebanon because the Lebanese are fellow Arabs. We thought that they would understand our situation.” Still, the family struggle to get by on the assistance offered by other humanitarian organizations.
The burning tent
Two years ago Nada was horribly burnt in a terrifying accident. Her family were preparing tea outside. As the fire roared over the water, bringing it to a boil, embers of the fire caught the tent. Nada was inside, playing by herself.
When her father realized the tent was on fire he screamed for his daughter to get out. The burning nylon of the tent had already caught onto her skin, and she was screaming in agony. As she ran out, she fell into the boiling pot of tea, adding to her injuries.
The damage was severe. The left side of her torso was deformed by her burns. Her father, Adnan, explained to us when we first met her how much this has affected his daughter psychologically. “Before the accident she was a chubby and happy little girl. Since then she lost a lot of weight and is a lot weaker.”
Her INARA treatment
When we took Nada in to meet our team of doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), they warned us that if she does not get an operation at a young age, she will not be able to develop properly as she gets older.
Nada had two surgeries that removed the excess skin on her torso, one in July of last year, and a further one in February.
“You gave us hope”
Nada has changed much since we first met her, and you can see the huge impact that these two surgeries have had on her confidence. Before the injuries on her torso were extremely painful and itchy. “She was really upset because she could tell that there was something wrong with her. She wouldn’t show anyone, even me, her father.
“But now she is more talkative and much happier. She loves to play with her siblings again and it’s like we’ve got our daughter back.”
This treatment has helped not only Nada, but also her parents. “We’re both so much happier now,” Adnan tells us. “I don’t worry about her injury anymore, and I don’t fear about how to save money for her medical treatment anymore.”
Adnan looks at his daughter with a warm smile on his face. “You gave us hope again,” he adds.
UNICEF contributed to Nada's treatment.