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Ashraf when we first met him in July 2017.

Ashraf when we first met him in July 2017.

For the past three years, Ashraf’s injury was the only thing on his parents’ minds. They couldn’t find anyone to help here, and had begun to think about risking their lives by returning to Syria to get him the treatment that he needed.

That was until they met INARA. Now, after almost a year, he is finally able to use his hand properly again.

The diesel crisis in Syria

In 2013, due to the ongoing war in Syria, there was a huge shortage of diesel. Many families who would use diesel to heat their homes were forced to buy fuel on the black market, which often was laced with highly flammable liquids like benzene.

It was a cold winter, and like many families, Ashraf’s parents had to make a difficult decision: buy this fuel which may well be dangerous, or be forced to sleep in freezing conditions. They chose to buy the ‘diesel’ being sold.

When they went to light the heater, it exploded, badly burning Ashraf’s hand. He was just four years old at the time.

Life following the accident

Ashraf got treatment for the burns on his hands in a hospital in Syria. However, checkpoints and roadblocks put up during the war often meant that the family couldn’t get Ashraf to his follow up appointments.

Since then, two of the fingers on his hand have contracted and cannot bend properly. This means that everyday tasks like writing, drawing, and even eating became arduous tasks that caused him considerable pain.

This situation made Ashraf’s parents extremely anxious. How could they help their son if the war meant he couldn’t even attend follow ups at the hospital? “The sight of dead bodies lying in the road became normal for my children. What kind of life is that for a child?” his mother asks. They made the decision to leave for Lebanon.

“We always saw Lebanon as a temporary place to live, just while the war died down. We thought we would only be there for three or four months maximum. But three years later and it doesn’t look like there’s a way back any time soon.”

Looking for help

The family were introduced to INARA when they brought Ashraf into a screening at a clinic run by the Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA). An INARA caseworker was there at the time. The screening physician encouraged the family to talk to the INARA caseworker, who took down the family’s details and arranged for them to come to meet our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC).

After meeting with Dr Amir Ibrahim in early July 2017, a medical plan was arranged. Ashraf had a scar release and skin graft surgery in order to restore full mobility to his hand. During these surgeries, wires were installed in his fingers for two weeks to straighten them.

We then liaised with Mousawat, a local NGO in Lebanon, to ensure that Ashraf’s physiotherapy sessions were booked in over the coming weeks.

Hope for Ashraf’s future

The family miss everything about their old life in Syria. They wait for the day that there is peace once again in Syria, so they can return and help to rebuild their life.

We can’t give them what they hope and dream for, but by restoring full mobility to Ashraf’s hand, we have helped in some small way to make his future brighter and happier.

“I’m very happy with my hand now,” he tells us with a huge grin on his face. “I used to think that I’d never be able to move my fingers or hold things – and now look at me!”

UNICEF contributed to Ashraf's treatment.

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