“I have to lie on my stomach when I want to sleep,” Mouayyad tells us. “I can’t sit straight. I wish I could go to school or get a job like other people my age but I can’t.”

16 year old Syrian refugee Mouayyad is painfully shy. He tells us that he was always the kind of child who wanted to stay at home and struggled to make friends. But his shyness has only increased since his accident. He is often in pain, barely gets any sleep at night, and feels claustrophobic inside the two bedroom apartment he shares with his brother, his brother’s wife, and their seven children.

“I miss Syria so much. It’s my country. My home,” he tells us. “I can’t even express how much I miss everything.”

The airstrike that changed his life

Mouayyad was cooking in the kitchen when an airstrike landed on his street in Syria. He turned around from the cooker to run. He doesn’t remember much after that except for the power of the stove as it exploded and pushed him across the kitchen.

The next thing he remembers was waking up in a hospital bed. He remained in the hospital for two months and then returned back to the shell of his home, burnt out from the explosion in the kitchen. But the family were constantly caught in the crossfire. “It was very unsafe,” he tells us, his eyes wide as he recalls the terror. “Guns and bombs were everywhere. We were left with no other option but leaving.”

The family dispersed

Mouayyad is the youngest of eight children. When the family fled their home, they stayed in Syria but sent him to go and live with his oldest brother, who had already fled to Lebanon with his wife and children. 

When we talk to his sister in law separately, she tells us how much his injury impacts him. “Now that he’s getting older, he realizes more how his injury is preventing him from achieving the future he wants. He sees young men working and going around carrying stuff. He can’t even do that. He can’t even sit straight. He’s starting to realize that his injury is ruining his future.”

Throughout our meeting with Mouayyad he repeats over and over how much he wants to get better so he can help support his brother and their family when he is older. He wants to be able to contribute, and feels useless waiting around in their cramped home, unable to move and do the things he wants.

How we will help Mouayyad

Because of the burns, Mouayyad’s lower back is contracted. It prevents the 16-year old from growing. He is constantly uncomfortable.

When we took him to our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) they explain that he will need a skin graft surgery. They will take skin from his thigh and place it on his lower back, releasing the contracture.

This will mean that Mouayyad will be able to reclaim his future. He can go back to school if he wants to, and our caseworkers are actively encouraging him to return to school once his treatment has finished. But most importantly to Mouayyad, it will mean he can rest easier at night, and sleep comfortably once again.

INARA provides life-altering medical treatment to refugee children from Syria up to the age of 18. For a lot of these children and their families, medical treatment is out of reach for them. The medical treatments that they need are expensive, and often the families struggle to eat and pay their rent, let alone pay for surgeries that can cost thousands of dollars. It’s thanks to donations from people like you that we can change their narrative, and help them to build happier and healthier futures.

UNICEF contributed to Mouayyad's treatment.