15 year old refugee Ali loves football. He’s absolutely obsessed with it. Every question we ask him somehow comes back to football. “I used to love playing football until I was caught in crossfire,” he tells us. “Ever since I’ve missed it so much…”
Coming back from the hospital
Just over a year ago, Ali was leaving the hospital. He had just been treated for a kidney disease and was very tired from the medical procedure. He was in the car when fighting suddenly broke out. Every single shot was so loud and his ears rang from the noise. It was total chaos – no one knew where to run or where to hide. Suddenly the shooting was drowned out by the noise of a rocket, which landed extremely close to Ali.
“Someone in the car had gasoline and so when the rocket landed near me, it exploded,” Ali tells us. He lifts his sleeves up and points at his scar: “I was badly burnt that day.”
He remembers that he was injured at about 11 in the morning. He was in a lot of pain, but the fighting carried on around him for another six hours before an ambulance could get in. “I could only get the hospital just after the sun had set. I was in so much pain!”
Ever since he was injured, Ali doesn’t wear t-shirts as he tries to hide the scars from people. “It means I can’t wear my favorite football shirts anymore,” he tells us.
Ali’s family situation
In Syria, Ali’s family are not able to leave their house and are still trapped in their town. Ali had managed to flee early on, and he worked different jobs in Syria in order to send money home to them. His father used to be the principal of a school, but the school was closed down by the group occupying their area.
After he was badly hurt in the crossfire, Ali decided to come to Lebanon to try and find help, and also work so he could continue to help his family. But he struggles financially, and rarely finds work. His arm doesn’t help as the burns on his arm pull against his elbow, restricting his movement.
He currently shares a small room with four of his friends. He does have an uncle that lives nearby who he sees occasionally, but he misses his family a lot. “We used to play football every day at home,” he tells us, smiling brightly as he recalls shooting goals past his younger siblings. “The best part of our house in Syria was that it was surrounded by trees. I used to plant apples.”
Ali’s case was referred to us by the Makhzoumi Foundation. We managed to get in touch with him and invited him to get a medical assessment at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. When there, doctors informed us that he would need a simple scar revision surgery on his elbow, and that shortly after that he would be able to fully move his arm again.
This was big and exciting news for Ali. “It means I’ll be able to work and help my family again. I can wear t-shirts in summer. I could play football!” he shouts with a huge smile on his face. “My life would be transformed to how it was before I was caught in crossfire that day.”
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UNICEF contributed to Ali's treatment.