“It’s really hard to see your child hurting and you can’t do anything about it. We felt disabled.”
14-year old Youssef doesn’t go to school. “I try to encourage him to go,” his mother tells us. “But he’s so embarrassed about his eye.”
Youssef is a polite and friendly boy. He wants to be a teacher when he grows up. “I love to write, and I think I will be a good teacher,” he tells us grinning. But at the moment he won’t go to school. The barrel bomb that injured him has not only almost blinded him, but it has also destroyed his confidence, and put his hopes and dreams on hold.
The barrel bomb
Youssef loved to play outside with his friends. One day, a barrel bomb landed on their street. Shrapnel flew into his face, directly into his eyebrow on the right side. The family took him to a field hospital in Syria to be treated, but a few days later, he lost all sight in his right eye.
“This really affected him,” his mother tells us. “He was really sad and didn’t talk to anyone. He never left the house.”
The family tried to find medical experts - but many had already fled due to the war. At the same time, their area was becoming less safe daily. “Every time we went out to get food, we were worried we’d never return again,” his mother tells us.
The father went to Lebanon first, to try and find work, and to find somewhere to live. The family followed afterwards. “The children’s school had been destroyed. There were no jobs. We had no choice. We had to leave our country,” his parents tell us, exhaustion etched onto their faces from the ordeals they have been through.
Finding help in Lebanon
Once in Lebanon, the family tried to find help for Youssef. The first doctor they met told them that there was no hope for Youssef, and that he would never see again out of his right eye. “Youssef lost hope that day,” his mother tells us.
But a few months later, the family met with a doct at Saint George Hospital University Medical Center. He explained to the family that were was a way that the sight in his right eye could be saved - via a complicated and expensive surgery, implanting a cataract in the eye.
However, the family did not have the money to pay for this procedure. It was at this point that a neighbor family in the refugee camp they live in recommended they speak to INARA. They spoke with us, and we will facilitate and pay for this surgery.
Life at the moment for Youssef
The family live in a refugee camp in the north of Lebanon. “In winter we suffer from the rain, and in summer it’s so hot. There are lots of bugs in the house, and we are really afraid about our children’s health.”
The father has tried for a very long time now to find regular work in Lebanon, but there appears to be nothing available. He finds occasional work, but the family does not have a regular income.
“It’s really hard to see your child hurting and you can’t do anything about it,” they tell us. “We felt disabled.” His parents tell us over and over again how proud they are of their son. “Once he can see out of his right eye again, we want to see him complete his education and achieve all that he wants to. We know he can do anything he wants to if he tries hard enough…”
UNICEF contributed to Youssef's treatment.