“My mother in law came out of the hospital room and burst into tears,” young father Ayman tells us in the INARA office, as he talks about the day, just a month ago, that his daughter Dima was born. “Eventually my mother in law stopped crying and told me that I had a daughter, but that she had been born with several deformities…”
Ayman is a stoic father, whose face rarely shows much expression. “At the time I was really emotional but I didn’t want to cry in front of my wife’s parents.”
Ayman was still in high school when the Syrian war broke out in 2011. “I had just finished the 11th grade,” he explains. He came to Lebanon four years ago when the war began to get worse and his village was bombed. “My parents pressured me to come to Lebanon because it was unsafe. They said I should get a job and send money back to them, but all I wanted to do was stay and continue my studies.”
Since he has lived in Lebanon, life has got more and more difficult each year. “No one likes you here when you’re Syrian. You can’t even leave the apartment because everyone will ask you for your ID wherever you go.”
Ayman works as a construction worker. “I’m not satisfied at all with the work. I wanted to finish high school and go on to have a good job.” He struggles to find work in the winter, but gets more work in the summer. As winter approaches, he is extremely anxious about his family’s financial situation, and has been trying to save the little he received this summer so the family can survive over winter.
The one positive thing about his life in Lebanon was that he met his wife here. She and her family, who are also Syrian refugees, lived very close to where he was staying. After many months of talking, they eventually got married.
Ayman hoped that his life would pick up with his new wife, and dreamt of a happy future with his own family. When she found out she was pregnant he was so excited, and couldn’t wait to meet his first child.
When Ayman’s wife went into labor, Ayman remembered feeling nervous but excited. “I came to the hospital with my wife, my mother in law and my father in law. My wife was in horrible pain and we didn’t know what to do. After three hours a doctor eventually turned up and I waited outside.”
40 minutes later was the moment he was told that his first ever child was born with numerous deformities, including clubfoot and some deformities in her hands. A nurse tried to reassure Ayman and his wife by explaining that there was treatment available for her conditions, but he knew there was no way they would be able to afford this. He felt as though his whole world was crashing in around him.
Ayman knew that he would have to search for help so he went to the nearest Doctors Without Borders clinic. They informed him that INARA had launched a new project to help children born with orthopedic conditions such as clubfoot.
They contacted INARA and we arranged for Dima to come in for a medical assessment at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). There doctors explained that Dima would need a number of casting sessions on her clubfoot over the coming weeks. Afterwards she would need a surgery, and then need to wear medical shoes for a few years.
Ayman and his wife have struggled to cope in the past month since Dima was born. “Despite how we feel, we always say that we will love Dima whatever happens in the future.” Now that INARA will be providing her with treatment, they don’t have to worry as much about Dima’s future, and can focus on raising her to be a happy and healthy girl.