“It burns my heart to see other children walking when my son can’t,” Farid’s father, Ahmad, told us. His two year old son was born with clubfoot on his right foot. “My cousin had quadruplets around the same time that Farid was born. They all started to walk, and it took Farid until he was one year and nine months old before he could stand on his two feet.”
Life in Syria
Ahmad is visibly moved when he tells us this. As a Syrian refugee, he and his family have struggled for years. When his wife found out that she was pregnant, he hoped for a happier future for his family. But, to Ahmad, it feels like tragedy follows them.
Ahmad and his family lived in a small town in Syria. They had to flee when a huge massacre took place in 2013. They were lucky to escape with their lives, and moved to a nearby village, hoping that they would manage to escape the violence of the war. It wasn’t long before the fighting caught up with them, as an airstrike landed on their neighbor’s house.
“My children had nervous breakdowns after that day,” Ahmad tells us, stoically holding back his tears. He decided that he would need to get his family out of Syria in order to find safety. The journey was dangerous, and he doesn’t tell us a lot about it, except that they had to work with a team of men who smuggled them out of their area in Syria to one near to the Lebanese border.
Seeking safety in Lebanon
The family crossed the border and filed their papers with the Lebanese government. They found a house through a local NGO, but the house is still under construction. “It has no doors or windows,” Ahmad explains. But he is happy that his family at least have somewhere to sleep.
When his wife Rajaa became pregnant, they were ecstatic at the thought that their newest child would grow up not knowing the horrors of war. But this came crashing down around them when Farid was born with clubfoot.
“When he was born I noticed that his foot was crooked,” Rajaa explains. “We asked the doctor about it but she told us that it was ok, and that he’d get better on his own.” But as Farid grew older and didn’t begin to walk like other children his age, the family knew that they should look for a second opinion.
Doctors informed the family that Farid had clubfoot. After learning this news, his parents did everything they could to provide him the treatment needed. They used up all their savings taking him to physiotherapy sessions, casting, and bought lots of equipment. “We used everything up, but he still didn’t recover.”
His family had started to lose hope that their son would ever be able to walk properly. But a friend of a friend recommended that they approach a doctor at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), Dr Taha. He is one of the doctors that we work closely with on our orthopedics project, and he told the family about INARA.
As with our other cases, Farid will go through a series of casting sessions over the next six weeks. Thereafter, he will have an Achilles tenotomy, and be fitted with a brace for up to two years. This should ensure he can walk properly, without pain.
At two, Farid is one of our oldest clubfoot cases. His family are very relieved that he will now be getting the treatment he needs, and look forward to the day when he walk with ease.
Farid's treatment was funded by UNICEF.