Fatima wasn’t even a teen when she lost both of her hands in an explosion in her mother’s house. Fatima’s mother, Nafla, had lost her husband when she was still pregnant with Fatima, and the two lived alone together. They were all the other had in the world.
Neither Fatima nor her mother can recall any details from the blast, just that Fatima was playing in her bedroom, and that her mother had just said goodbye to some guests who were over for tea. Suddenly, an explosion shook the house, and in the chaos and confusion that followed, all Fatima’s mother remembers is grabbing her bleeding daughter and running.
There were no hospitals in the area, so Fatima’s mother was forced to take her to a nearby house for first aid. There they covered what was left of Fatima’s mangled hands with gauze, which eventually became stuck to the wounds and resulted in infection.
Fatima and her mother Nafla never returned to their family house again because it was destroyed. From then on, they moved from village to village for two years as they fled bombings and waited for the end of the civil war.
Today, Fatima and Nafla live in a UNHCR apartment on the Lebanese border with Syria. Fatima was referred to INARA by International Medical Corps (IMC) in December 2015. We have been providing her with much-needed treatment for almost three years now.
Her INARA journey
When Fatima and Nafla came into our office, they were already resigned to the fact that Fatima had lost her hands in the blast forever, and that she would live as an amputee for the rest of her life. The situation weighed heavily on Fatima, who rarely left the house. She would tuck her arms into the pockets of her sweatshirt when she sensed a stranger’s gaze.
Doctors explained that the improper management of Fatima’s wounds led to the skin healing around her injured hands and enclosing what was left of them under scar tissue and new, stretched skin. With a number of surgeries, they would be able to make one of her hands ready for a prosthetic hand, which would improve her ability to live everyday life.
All in all, since we first began treating Fatima in December 2015, she has had six surgeries on her hands. She had an additional surgery for the burns on her face, making it easier for Fatima to smile, and to eat. She has also been fitted with one prosthetic hand, that enables Fatima to hold things.
We launched a campaign in February 2016 in order to raise the more than $50,000 needed to treat Fatima. We managed to raise the full amount, thanks in large part to Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, who donated a considerable amount for Fatima.
Fatima is still struggling to come to terms with what has happened to her. She refuses to wear her prosthetic hands outside of the house, and has not returned to school, for fear of other children staring at her. But at least when she’s at home, she’s able to do more.
Her mother tells us that Fatima has started to enjoy applying makeup with her prosthetic hands. “That makes her happy,” she told us warmly.