Every single day eight-year old refugee Wael stares at his face in the mirror. He tries to hide the scarring on his mouth and cheek by covering them with his hands. “He tells us that he tries to imagine what his face used to look like,” his parents tell us. “He misses his face.”
Before the war broke out, Wael’s life in Syria was idyllic. They lived in the countryside and were surrounded by nature. Wael was a popular boy and had lots of friends in his village. He loved to ride his bicycle outside with his cousins.
Once the war broke out this all changed. Even their home in the countryside became a battlefield. They began to hear the noise of warplanes overhead, shots being fired around them, and the horrifying noise of bombs damaging everything around them.
Four years ago was the day that changed everything for Wael and his family. A bomb hit their house, completely destroying it. Wael was badly injured and burnt on his face and neck. His uncle died in the bombing.
His family didn’t know what to do. They had lost everything they had and feared that their son would die. They rushed him to the nearest hospital, but it was overflowing with people from the recent airstrikes. Everyone in there needed urgent help and the doctors were completely overwhelmed. He was eventually admitted to surgery, but it failed.
“After losing our house we had nothing left. Wael’s surgery failed and we knew that we would have to leave Syria,” his mother explains, wiping the tears away with a tissue. “It was awful to leave our country behind but we didn’t have a choice.”
Life for Wael since the bomb
Wael’s life has been a struggle for over four years now. The burns stretch across from his mouth to his cheek, and all the way down his neck. It means he is unable to eat properly and has to survive on liquid foods, which he still struggles to swallow. Even sleeping is difficult for him because the scarring causes him a lot of pain.
The family live in a small house in a valley. Many of their neighbors are fellow Syrian refugees. He goes to school here in Lebanon and loves science the most.
His family were put in touch with INARA by the Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA). We organized an appointment with our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) who informed the family that Wael would need a scar revision surgery on his neck. The surgery would restore the functionality of his mouth for eating and also enable him to close it properly.
This has been a huge relief for Wael and his family. “After this surgery he will feel differently about himself. At the moment he doesn’t like the way he looks but after this surgery he’ll be able to close his mouth properly and this will really restore some of his confidence,” his family tell us happily.
Wael’s parents have high hopes for their son. They know how much he loves science at school and want him to pursue this in his future. “We want him to get educated and to grow up healthy. I wish for him to get what he wants in life, but we also want him to get degrees. Many degrees!”
UNICEF contributed to Wael's treatment.