“I could barely breathe,” Reem’s mother tells us, when she explains the day that an airstrike landed on her neighbor’s house in Syria. “We were all panicking and running around the house, trying to get everyone out. I ran into Reem’s room and I saw that her crib was on fire. I thought she was dead.”
Tears slide down her face slowly as she recalls that day. Four-year old Reem sits next to her mother, holding her hand, looking at the pictures of the children INARA has helped that are displayed in our offices with curious look on her face.
Life in Syria
The family lived in an area of Syria that was under siege. “There were daily bombings,” her mother explains. The horrible noise of bombings falling from the sky was nothing new for the family, but that day three years ago they could tell that this was going to land close to them.
Reem was badly injured by the airstrike. Her parents immediately tried to find someone who could help them, but the siege prevented them from leaving their town. The only help they could find was from a traditional doctor, who prescribed them herbal medicines for the wounds on Reem’s arms and torso.
“After Reem was injured, we did everything we could to sneak out of the area,” her mother explains. They would never have been able to get her the medical treatment that she so urgently needed if they remained in their besieged city. Reem’s mother doesn’t expand on how they managed to do it, preferring instead to skirt over the subject.
Once in Lebanon…
Once the family arrived in Lebanon, they started their journey to find the appropriate medical treatment for their young daughter. She couldn’t open her arm, because the scarring around her armpit had formed into tight, hard ropes that make it impossible for her to move her arms.
They took her to a doctor in a city far from where they lived, but the doctor explained how expensive the treatment was and the family could in no way afford it. “Everything is so much more expensive here in Lebanon,” her mother says angrily. “We try to find a way to provide a good life for our children but it’s impossible.”
Recently the family were told to try to find help at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). Once there, a resident doctor informed them about INARA, and the family contacted us.
Medical treatment for Reem
Reem was examined by doctors at AUBMC who informed us that she would need a scar release surgery on the scarring around her left armpit. This would free up movement for her arm again. They also recommended that she would need a CO2 laser injection for her chest, to make the burnt skin there more flexible and ensure that, as she grows up, her growth won’t be inhibited by the scarring.
Her parents hope that this will help their young daughter. They know that other children in their area bully her for her burns, but they are hoping that with this treatment she will feel more confident to stand up to them. “I wish my daughter will become a great woman,” her mother tells us, smiling proudly at her daughter.
UNICEF is contributing to Reem's treatment.