“I like to play with my sister-in-law,” Khulood tells us shyly. We ask her what they play together and she laughs, hiding her beautiful smile behind her big, curly fringe. Her brother tells us that Khulood and his wife like to put make-up on, and it always cheers up his little sister. She giggles quietly as he explains it to our caseworker.
Psychological and physical implications
Khulood was only a couple of months old when she fell off the sofa in their house and onto a heater. She fell onto the side of her face, badly burning it. Her mother rushed her to a nearby hospital in Lebanon, but they only applied ointments to her face. They were sent home soon after, and advised to apply honey to the wounds.
Over the past four years, as she grew older, the burns on her face has caused her significant problems. The scars pull on her right eye, meaning she cannot even close it. This causes her eyes to water constantly, and causes her a lot of pain.
In addition to that, her confidence has been hugely impacted. “Last Eid, Khulood refused to go outside and play with the other children,” her brother tells us. “She is ashamed of her face. As she gets older, she starts to notice the stares more, and she realizes the meaning behind the insults that bullies throw her way.”
Khulood’s brother has been searching for treatment for his little sister for a while. Eventually, he was given INARA’s number by the Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA) and contacted us. We brought her in for a medical assessment at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), and our doctors informed that Khulood would need a very specific procedures, because of how big the scar is on her face.
Doctors will install a balloon into the side of her neck, which they will regularly inflate with air. This will stretch the skin on her neck over a number of weeks, providing the doctors with new skin that they can use to graft onto her face. This will ensure she can close her right eye again. This procedure has been booked in over the coming months at AUBMC.
Impact for Khulood
Khulood’s brother is very concerned about his sister’s confidence, and hopes and prays that this surgery will help her. “I wish that this will help her to regain her confidence when playing with other children her age,” he says, smiling at his sister warmly.
At the moment Khulood doesn’t go to school because she is worried about being bullied. “We know her face won’t go back to how it was, but we’re hoping with some improvement she’ll feel much better.”
UNICEF is contributing to Khulood's treatment.