Ever since Fatme was burnt in Syria, she has been in a lot of pain. The burns on the one year old’s body are sore, and she scratches them constantly. “She can’t stand wearing any clothes because they cause her to itch so much,” her parents tell us when we bring them into the INARA office for their first meeting. “She cries whenever she wears clothes and she can’t wait to get home and remove them.”
The explosion in Syria
It was freezing cold and wet eight months ago in Syria. Fatme was fast asleep next to the heater in the middle of their living room – a traditional part of old Syrian houses – to keep warm. The rest of the family were outside the house talking with their neighbors.
Suddenly the family heard the noise of fighter jets overhead, and heard a huge explosion close by. Luckily the house was not hit, but the family could hear Fatme screaming inside. They ran in, to find that the heater had fell right on top of her, and was burning her upper chest.
Finding a secure place
The family had very little resources close to them to help treat Fatme’s burns. Hospitals nearby had been destroyed in the war. They had to do basic first aid on her at a local pharmacy, and sat down as a family to contemplate what to do next while Fatme cried loudly in the next room.
“We were suffering then,” her father tells us. “It felt like everything had been taken away from us at this point.” The family decided they had to leave Syria, and flee to Lebanon to try and find someone who might be able to help their young daughter. “We wanted to be in a secure place,” they add.
The family live in a small house in the mountains in Lebanon. “It’s not perfect but we cannot complain,” the family say. “At least we have a roof over our heads.” Since they left they do not miss Syria. What they remember and loved about their country has all been destroyed in the war.
Searching for help for Fatme
Once they found somewhere to live the family began their search for help for their young daughter. She cries constantly and barely sleeps because the burns cause her so much pain, and both of her parents look exhausted as they explain how they came to find INARA.
After asking other refugees in their area, someone recommended they speak to the Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA). They pointed the family in INARA’s direction. We immediately booked in an appointment at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC).
Dr Amir Ibrahim examined Fatme and found that the scars on her shoulders and chest badly affect the child’s ability to move. In addition, the scarring would cause the young girl a lot of problems as she gets older, mainly in that the scars are so tight that they would restrict her growth. He recommended that she has a scar revision surgery, and we booked this in for her at the start of August.
Relief for Fatme’s parents
The news that Fatme would receive a surgery to help her has been a huge relief for her parents, who have, for months, struggled to find their daughter the help she needs. “Now we can focus on her recovering and being comfortable again. Soon she’ll be able to get a full night’s sleep – and so will we!”
Once Fatme’s surgery has taken place, the family have hopes that their daughter will become an educated and happy individual, who can achieve whatever she wishes in her future.
UNICEF contributed to Fatme's treatment.