“We try to make sure Lara doesn’t feel bad about the burns on her hands,” her parents tell us. “But every time we try to remind her that she’s still beautiful, she gets upset. What can we do?”
‘A miracle she is still alive’
Lara was at home with her aunt, who shares their small flat with her family. Her parents were in Syria visiting relatives. They had fled Syria as refugees into Lebanon many years ago to stay safe, but regularly went back to check on their relatives whenever the war died down in their area.
Lara went into the bathroom. While she was there, she saw a wire hanging out of the water heater. Lara is a curious child and went to touch it. The next moment her aunt heard a huge bang. The live wire had given Lara an electric shock that blew her across the bathroom, knocking her unconscious.
Her aunt rushed her to the hospital, where doctors informed her it was a miracle that Lara was still alive. Even though she survived the electric shock, she was left with severe external burns on her hands where she had gripped the wire.
Ever since, Lara has struggled to hold things in her hands, particularly her right one. The burns mean she cannot close her hand properly and so cannot grip everyday items such as a knife and fork, or a pen. It means that her parents constantly have to assist her, and Lara is completely reliant on them for everything. She has also become extremely shy, and whenever someone asks to see her hands she bursts out crying.
“Some children in the neighborhood make fun of her burns,” her parents inform us. “It’s been really devastating for her. We try to remind her that her burns don’t matter and that she is still our beautiful daughter, but the words don’t stick for her.”
For the past two years Lara and her family have tried to live as normally as possible, given the extremity of her injuries. Her parents worried for her future. Recently a friend recommended that they contact INARA, and so they picked up the phone, hoping for the best.
Within a few days, they were invited to come to a medical assessment at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). The doctors examined the injuries on her hands and recommended that she would need a skin release surgery on her right hand.
On May 18, Lara’s surgery was booked in. The surgery didn’t take very long, and Lara was discharged on the same day because she was doing so well. She will need a number of follow-up appointments to ensure that her wounds are healing and that full functionality is restored to her hand.
Life for Lara
Lara’s parents are confident that this surgery will really help restore some confidence to their seven-year old daughter. “After this we hope that she will go back to school and continue her education,” they say, while Lara plays with some of the toys we have in the office. “We want to see her become a smart, educated young woman.
Electrocution is one of the many ways that Syrian children are injured as a result of living as refugees. Due to financial restraints, families have to take housing that often isn’t suitable for living. Many of the children we work with day to day have been injured from living in unsafe conditions. You can do something to help these children by setting up a regular donation to INARA today.
UNICEF contributed to Lara's treatment.