“Lama is hyperactive when she’s at home,” her father, Jaafar, tells us. “But as soon as there is someone she doesn’t know in the room, she suddenly becomes shy.” Lama sits quietly on her father’s lap as he tells us about their situation. She avoids eye contact, and occasionally squeezes her father’s hand for reassurance.
According to her father, Lama’s shyness is a recent development since the five year old was horribly injured in the dark, dank apartment that they share with his sister-in-law and her two children. “I’ll never forget the day that she was hurt,” he tells us mournfully.
One day last year, Lama’s mother left some potatoes to boil on the stove. She quickly mopped the floor in an attempt to keep their flat clean and tidy. Their young daughter wandered into the kitchen and slipped on the wet floor, knocking into the oven. The pan of boiling potatoes fell on top of her, covering her arms and chest in scorching water.
“Her burns were severe and her screams were so loud,” Jaafar tells us. He rushed his daughter to the hospital, praying that she would be ok. The hospital treated the vicious burns as best they could, but sadly the scars hardened around her elbow, preventing the young girl from moving her arm.
Her INARA journey begins
When we took Lama to the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) to meet with our doctors, they informed us that there is a likelihood that she won’t need a surgery to improve the movement of her arm.
She will be given a garment with silicon pads that she has to wear every single day. She will also be given a night splint that she wears to bed. Doctors hope that this treatment will ensure that the mobility of her arm improves, but she will be coming in regularly to AUBMC so they can monitor her carefully.
If this treatment doesn’t work, INARA will pay for a scar revision surgery.
Life since they left Syria
“The day we decided to leave Syria was a hard one,” Jaafar tells us. “The area that we lived in became full of militias from all sides. We knew something bad would happen as soon as we began to hear the first gunshots. We knew that the place we had called home for years would no longer be home; staying alive would become a struggle.”
Lama’s father fled with his wife and three children to Lebanon in search of safety. They moved in with his brother, sister-in-law, and his two nephews in a refugee camp in the north of Lebanon. The house is small - they only have two rooms, and the flat is dark and dusty.
“The house isn’t fit for living, really,” Jaafar tells us. “We never see the sun in there. It affected my brother’s health as he suffered from asthma. One day he had a really bad asthma attack and died. Now I have to look after his family as well as my own. Work is hard to come by. We struggle everyday to survive here in Lebanon.”
Jaafar is a young father. He adores his daughter who only just turned five in early January. When we ask him what he hopes for her future, he simply says that he hopes that she can get out of Lebanon. “There is nothing for us here as refugees,” he says sadly as he strokes his daughter’s long, dark hair.
UPDATE (October 13, 2017)
Lama has been wearing her garment since January and her mobility has improved. However, doctors informed us that she would need a CO2 injection which should further improve the flexibility of her arm. She had this on October 13 and was discharged slightly drowsy, but in a good mood.
She will need another garment and we will continue to follow-up with over over the coming months.
UNICEF contributed to Lama's treatment.