Rasha is an incredibly shy young girl. She hides behind her mother when she meets members of the medical team at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). Her mother tells us that she used to be much worse. “Whenever she heard the word ‘doctor’ before she would literally go insane.”
Six years ago in Syria
Six years ago in Syria the war had just begun. What started off as peaceful protests quickly began to escalate into fighting, and Rasha’s mother began to worry. The family lived in a large city, and it wasn’t long before their neighborhood was enveloped in violence.
One day the sounds of gun shots began to grow and grow. Then they could heard the noise of a helicopter above their house shooting at people. The noise was deafening and Rasha, who was just one at the time, was so petrified that she ran into the kitchen to find her mother. In her panic, she fell into a pot of boiling water that was being heated on a stove on the floor.
Rasha received medical treatment at a nearby hospital in Syria, and the family were confident that she’d get better. There were a few complications and her wounds did get repeatedly infected, but she was almost fully recovered when the fighting in their area took a turn for the worse, as airstrikes began to rain down on their city, destroying everything.
“We had to flee then,” her mother explains. “We couldn’t stay. Living through airstrikes was too much for anyone to take.”
Life in Lebanon
The family crossed the border and settled in an informal settlement. They live in a tent, six meters by four meters. They divided it into two – one for a kitchen and the other for a room. When the family first moved to Lebanon, Rasha’s wounds were almost fully recovered. But in the heat of summer, her wounds became infected again, and this time the family didn’t know who to turn to for help. They had very little money to pay for the medical treatment themselves, and barely knew anyone who could tell them who they could turn to.
After a few months, the infected wounds had caused her arm to be locked in place. After searching across Lebanon for someone to help them they managed to find an NGO who could help by performing a scar revision surgery. However, shortly after she had this her wounds became infected again.
Referred to INARA
It was at this point that her case was referred to INARA. Rasha’s mother called INARA explaining that her daughter’s wound had become infected and was very concerned that the infection could become life-threatening. We brought the family in the next day to have an appointment with Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah at AUBMC.
He explained that the wound had indeed become infected at the elbow. However, he did not find that it was critical to a point where the family should be worried. He explained that they would need to continue to clean the wound and regularly change the dressing, and that in three months she may need another surgery. However, he would need to assess her in the coming months to be sure.
Rasha’s mother explains that she just wants her daughter to be happy and healthy. Rasha has two sisters and one brother, and her mother is currently pregnant. She loves her siblings very much, but because her mobility is restricted by the burns on her arm, she often gets frustrated that she can’t do the things her siblings can do, and lashes out by hitting them sometimes.
Thanks to your help we could respond quickly to bring Rasha in for a medical assessment, and provide her with regular follow ups to ensure that, post-surgery, her wounds do not become infected again. We look forward to the day when we have restored full mobility to the young girl’s arm.