As Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, life is extremely hard for Mahdi’s family. They spend a lot of time reminiscing about their old home in Syria. They used to live on a farm, and would keep chickens and other animals. “We miss the simplicity of life back then,” his parents tell us. “The air used to smell so nice. We felt so safe there in our small home.”
The Syrian War
Life changed for the family in 2011 when war broke out across Syria. Their quiet life became incredibly difficult as the war ravaged their country. “Simple things like food and medication became so hard to find,” Mahdi’s father tells us. “Everything fell apart. Our country became hell to live in and we had no choice but to move.”
They got on the bus and went to Lebanon, hoping and praying that life would be a bit easier there. They soon found a small house to live in and the father found work a lot faster than they were expecting. Although it doesn’t pay very well and they still struggle, the family felt as though their life was getting better.
Every morning, Mahdi’s mother would wake up early to make tea. It was one of the few times that they could gather together as a family and enjoy each other’s company, before her husband would go to work.
When her husband left, Mahdi’s mother started to clean up their small home. While she was in the living room, Mahdi walked into the kitchen and accidentally knocked the boiling hot tea on himself. The noise of Mahdi crying was so loud that his mother and the neighbors all rushed into the kitchen, to find that his arms and back were covered in boiling tea. They called Mahdi’s father, who quickly came back from work to take him to the nearest hospital.
At the hospital, the doctors told the family that he would need to stay and be treated for the next 20 days. Luckily, the father had managed to save enough money in case of emergency and admitted Mahdi. However, as the days passed, Mahdi’s condition began to get worse. Doctors ignored his father’s concerns, and he didn’t know what to do. His neighbors told him that the hospital was not good and that they should discharge Mahdi in case he got any worse.
His father discharged his son a few days early. The medical bills ate into all their savings, and Mahdi was no better. The burns on his arms and hand had formed hard ropes that pulled tightly on him, heavily restricting his movement. His family had no money left to do anything else to help their son. They resigned themselves to the fact that he would face a difficult life, permanently scarred by that terrible accident.
It was only when the family were put in touch with INARA by the Union of Relief & Development Associations (URDA) that they began to hope again for a bright future for Mahdi. We arranged for him to meet our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), where he was told that he would need a burn scar contraction surgery, which would release the scarring on his arm and hand, and restore functionality. Mahdi had this surgery in early August and it was a success. He is now at home resting, and will be coming into AUBMC for regular follow-ups.
This has been a huge relief for the family. “We hope this will change him. Ever since he was burnt he stopped playing. He struggles to sleep because the scarring is so uncomfortable and causes him a lot of pain. We always feel that he is sad and down all the time. But now that he has had his surgery, we know that he will be able to do whatever he wants again. He’ll be able to play again. Especially football! That was always his favorite.”
UNICEF contributed to Mahdi's treatment.