Last Christmas, eight-year old Wassim and his family gathered around the fireplace to celebrate. It was a joyous time for the refugee family, and they sang songs and danced. It was at this point that the accident occurred – one that scarred not only Wassim but the whole family.
The Christmas accident
“Ever since the accident Wassim was changed a lot,” his mother explains. “His burns are so painful that he can barely walk, sit, or sleep. Simple things like changing his clothes are difficult for him and I have to help him. He is always in pain.”
Wassim has a large family. He has nine siblings and they are cramped together in one small apartment in the mountains in Lebanon. That Christmas, as the whole family sat together in their small living room around the fireplace, they danced and celebrated. Wassim’s brother accidentally knocked a pot of boiling tea that was placed in the fireplace, and it spilled over Wassim’s legs, badly burning him.
His mother instantly took him to a hospital in Beirut, but the treatment was far too expensive for them. They then travelled south of Beirut to a hospital in Saida, but they were told that the hospital didn’t have any expertise in burns and so wouldn’t be able to help him. The family were filled with anxiety, and Wassim kept crying in pain. They didn’t know who to turn to in order to get help.
Eventually, their neighbor advised that they travel to Tripoli, far, far from where the family live. Wassim was treated there for 22 days.
Since the day of the accident, Wassim has struggled – both psychologically and physically. “He cowers away from the kitchen when we are cooking because he is scared of things burning or boiling,” his mother explains.
Even though the wounds were treated in the hospital, the burns on his thighs are very bad and at high risk of causing infection. Because of this and because an infection could be potentially life-threatening, we have taken on Wassim’s case.
Wassim and his family came to INARA in April and were told that he would need to come twice a week to the clinic at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) to change his wound dressings. Each night at home the family should also change it, using Inadine. This would help treat the burns and prevent infection. After a few more months, Wassim’s burns should be fully treated and this should ensure that he isn’t in constant pain doing everyday tasks.
Their hopes for the future
Wassim and his family came to Lebanon in 2013. “One day there was a bombing right next to us at a school,” Wassim’s mother explains. “60 children died that day and it happened right next to us. Our house was partially damaged in the explosion. I knew we had to leave that day. We couldn’t stay.”
The family have since lived in their cramped apartment. “I’m trying to give my children the best life,” his mother states. “But that is completely impossible when you are refugees in Lebanon.”
Despite this, his mother has hopes for her eight-year old son’s future. “Once he is better I want him to go to school and become educated,” she tells us smiling. “I wish him all the happiness that the world can offer, and to have a great life.”