Safa wants to live in Paris
Safa is a quiet girl. The painful scars on her face are hidden by a mask, that helps to treat her acute burns.
When we walk with Safa between the hospital and the INARA office, you cannot help but notice the amount of people who stare at Safa. Her eyes drop to the floor when she walks. She doesn’t want to see the way that people look at her.
But when she talks about Paris, she becomes suddenly more animated. She passionately describes the Eiffel Tower, and how much she loves the French language. She tells us, hands and arms moving about in a lively manner, about her dreams of one day living in Paris, of walking along the cobbled streets of Montmartre, and of immersing herself in everything that is French.
“It feels as though I was asleep, and when I woke up, I was burnt.”
Safa and her family are Syrian refugees based in Lebanon. On New Year’s Eve last year, Safa’s sister prepared a late dinner for the family. Safa went for a nap. As her sister prepared the meal, she accidentally poured in too much gasoline. The cooker went up in flames and the house caught fire.
Safa awoke to the screams of her family. She didn’t really understand what was going on. “I don’t remember what happened to me. It often feels as though I was asleep, and when I woke up, I was burnt.”
When her father speaks about what happened, things become clearer. He said that Safa woke up, and managed to escape out of the house. In the confusion, and the smoke, and the noise, she thought that one of her siblings was trapped in the house. She went back in to try and save them, but shortly realised that no one else was in the house. Everyone had already escaped.
She tried to get back out of the house but she was trapped. Her last memory is thinking that she would die as the flames got closer and closer to her.
“Safa is courageous,” her father tells us. “Not only because she went in to try and save her siblings, but also because of how well she deals with her situation. Yes, she struggles to cope with the staring, and with the pain. But she is strong. She won’t let this stop her.”
How INARA will help Safa
The burns on Safa’s face are still extremely acute. How we can help is very dependent on how well she responds to the mask that we have provided for her.
Doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) do believe that she will likely need a surgery on her neck to loosen the scarring, and enable her to move her head properly.
Safa has vivid hopes for her future. She doesn’t go to school currently because she is worried about how the other children will treat her. But she knows that once she receives treatment, she needs to go back.
She longs for a new life, far away from the pain and suffering she experienced in Syria, and that she experiences today as a refugee in Lebanon. She wants to move to Paris. She wants to train hard to become a lawyer, and she wants to help the poor and those who most need her help. Her dreams seem very far away for her now, but we hope that the medical treatment that we can provide for her will give her the confidence and determination to realize everything that she hopes for.
Since wearing the facial mask for over a year, doctors were astounded at the results. Safa's face is looking much better and she is much more confident, enough to go to school again.
In October she had a skin graft surgery and CO2 laser injection in a procedure that took about three hours. At a follow-up a few weeks later, doctors were again impressed with the results