13-year old Diana loves school. Her favorite lesson is science. Since her injury she has continued to go to school, even though people regularly ask to see her injury. “When I refused they made fun of me,” she told us when we first met her. As she says this she glances down at the scars on her arm, straining because of the tight burnt tissue on her neck, which restricts her movement.
“I can’t remember the day I got injured”
Diana was just seven years old when she was injured. “I can’t remember the day,” she explains to us, “but I do remember panicking and feeling very scared.” It was 2011 and the Syrian War had just started. No one knew how violent the fighting would become, and Diana’s family were hopeful that things would be over soon.
Her father explains more about the day she was injured. “We were inside the house drinking tea. We heard the loud roar of planes overhead but didn’t think that anything would happen to us. Suddenly our ears were filled with the noise of chaos, as a rocket landed next to our house.”
Diana was very afraid and she ran, confused, towards her mother. She slipped and knocked the boiling pot of tea over her body, badly burning her neck and arm.
“We immediately took her to the nearest pharmacy, because we were worried about the bombs going on around us,” her father explains. Their pharmacist informed the family that her injuries were very severe, and that she would need to go to the nearest hospital. But all roads to the hospital had been blocked by fighting.
Coming to Lebanon
With Diana’s burns causing her so much pain, the family decided that they should come to Lebanon to try and get medical treatment for their young daughter. Much of their home was badly damaged in the airstrike and so they packed what little they had and crossed the border.
Diana’s father went immediately to UNHCR who helped the family to admit their daughter to a hospital. She was treated and she was healing well, but her burns became infected, most likely due to their poor living conditions. The family live in a Palestinian refugee camp and are crammed into a two-bedroom apartment. In total, 13 people live there.
Over the years, the burn scars retracted, heavily restricting Diana’s ability to move her arm and neck. As the family are so poor, paying for medical treatment was almost impossible, although they did their best to save as much money as they possibly could.
In the meantime, Diana tried to live her life as normally as possible, and started going to school in Lebanon.
Recently Diana’s parents went back to UNHCR to explain how, despite her treatment in hospital, her scars were causing her issues with her mobility. UNHCR gave them INARA’s number, informing them that we may well be able to help.
We immediately booked an appointment in for Diana with our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). This meant so much to Diana’s father: “When you called to inform me about the date of the appointment I cried because I suddenly felt hope that my daughter might get treated.”
Our team of doctors explained that Diana would need two scar revision surgeries – one on her neck and one on her arm. After that, and a number of follow-ups in the coming months, Diana’s movement should be back to normal.
The impact that this will have on Diana’s life
This medical treatment means so much to Diana. “It will change my life. I will learn to love my body again, and no one will make fun of me anymore,” she says happily.
Her father adds to this: “I want her to feel good about herself again.” As he says this he winks at his daughter in a playful way, and she laughs, rolling her eyes at her father’s emotions.
“In the future we want Diana to be a successful woman in society. She needs to complete her education first, that’s really important.”
We asked Diana what she would like to say to people who have donated to INARA to help her and other refugee children in need of medical help. She said: “I want to thank you all so much. You’re helping to change my life.”
UNICEF are contributing towards Diana's treatment.