“I don’t want Nassim to be a builder like me,” his father says. His young son, who isn’t even a year old, lies asleep in his mother’s arms at his meeting in the INARA office, occasionally murmuring. “What would you like to be?” the father asks jokingly. “What about a lawyer?”
Nassim was injured when he was just four months old. He was in the small room that he and his family inhabit as refugees in Lebanon. It was a cold day, and the family had gathered around a diesel heater. Its legs were unstable and the family had to prop it up using items in the house. When his mother went out of the room to the kitchen, the heater fell on top of Nassim, burning his face.
Nassim’s father rushed him to the nearest hospital in Lebanon. “Doctors said that his injuries weren’t that bad, and just put some gauze on his face and sent us home,” his father explains. But Nassim’s injuries were a lot worse than the family were told by doctors. His upper lip has a burn on it, which restrict his ability to open and close his mouth fully.
“He’s a baby, he doesn’t know any different. His mood and personality are the same, but his face and lips have changed a lot,” his father says, pointing at the painful looking scars on his son’s face.
Nassim’s path to recovery
Nassim’s family began to look for help for their son when they realized that the scarring was restricting the movement on his face. The gauze wasn’t working, and they did not have the money to take him back to the hospital. After approaching a few organizations, they were informed about INARA by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).
We first met the family in June last year. We introduced them immediately to Dr Amir Ibrahim at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). At the time, the burns were too new for him to perform a surgery – but he prescribed them an ointment for them to apply to help the scars heal.
In January, Nassim and his parents came in for a follow-up appointment at AUBMC. The scars had healed, and so doctors could then undertake a scar release and skin graft surgery for his upper lip.
Nassim’s family have big dreams for their youngest son. They live in the mountains of Lebanon, and on a clear day can look across a valley and see into Syria. “We never wanted to leave,” his father explains. “But since the war broke out, there was bombing, shelling, explosions, and fights every single day. Add to that the economic situation there, and there was nothing left for me to do for money for my family.”
His family long to go back to Syria. “I hope things get better soon and God solves the current crisis we’re in in Syria,” he says, clasping his hands tightly as though praying.
UNICEF are contributing towards Nassim's treatment.