Rania was nine when an airstrike hit her house. She was inside with her siblings at the time. The fire badly burnt Rania, and destroyed their entire house, with everything inside it. The airstrike that has left her with severe burns all over her body is also the reason that she has been separated from her mother for such a long time. “I haven’t seen her in three years,” she tells us with tears in her eyes. “I miss her so much.”
Rania was nine when an airstrike hit her house in Syria. “I don’t remember what I was doing at the time, but I do remember the moment the strike hit. Suddenly there was fire everywhere.” She ran to the balcony on the first floor, covered in flames, and screamed for someone to help her. A neighbor climbed a ladder and threw a bucket of water over her, but the flames only grew. He then went and got a blanket and wrapped Rania in it, and dragged her down from the balcony, saving her life.
Her mother and father were out of town visiting family members, and had left Rania’s eldest sister Aya in charge. Aya was also badly hurt in the fire, and so the neighbor that managed to save Rania took them all to the nearest hospital. The hospital rejected them, however, because their neighbor had no money to pay them. They then had to journey to the nearest government hospital in a city nearby to them.
Rania stayed in the hospital for three months. “I remember they were really good to me, and took care me. They applied ointments and kept my wounds clean,” she explains. But despite that, the burns on Rania’s young body were severe around her torso, and caused her a lot of irritation.
“I stopped going to school after I was burnt,” she says. “People bullied me and hit me at the school. I used to love skipping. Now I don’t ever play with my rope. I only ever played with it at school.”
Coming to Lebanon
Rania’s mother and father knew that she needed extra medical treatment, but they could not afford to get new passports to travel to Lebanon. They also were worried about the complications they would face if they came to the country illegally. They had to make the difficult decision to send Rania and her eldest sister Aya (who is only 23) to Lebanon to seek out the medical help that she so desperately needed
They managed to find some accommodation with someone from their village, who also fled Syria. Aya found work cleaning houses, but they do not have a stable income. They have spent the past two years searching for someone who could help them.
How INARA can help
We met with Rania and took her to meet our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). There they explained that the burns on her torso are pulling on her body, restricting her growth. Aged 13 now, they explained that she would need a scar release and skin graft surgery soon to ensure that her body can grow as she goes through her teens. They also recommended that she would need CO2 laser and steroid injections as well.
“My self-esteem will change”
Rania doesn’t go to school and only has her sister to talk to. She is really close with Aya but she misses her parents more than she can express in words. She spends her days listening to music. Her favorite artists are Lebanese singers Najwa Karam and Elissa.
Rania has dreamt of this surgery ever since the accident. “I will change, my body will look better,” she says. Then, tears will her eyes as she tells us: “My self-esteem will change.” She starts to cry heavily then, and our caseworker reassures her that things will get better after this surgery. She calms down after a few minutes, and wipes the tears away with a tissue. She gives us a timid smile, but behind it you can see the strength and determination in her eyes for a better future.
UNICEF contributed to Rania's treatment.