Mostafa's smile

  • Emergency
  • Lebanon
  • Syria

Last November, Mostafa's house was bombed and his legs were seriously injured. He is now living in a shelter made from corrugated iron and tarpaulins with his brothers and his sister. With her help, and with support from Handicap International, Mostafa is getting back both his mobility - and his smile.

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Mostafa, 8, in a physiotherapy session. Lebanon.
Mostafa, 8, in a physiotherapy session. Lebanon.
Mostafa, 8, in a physiotherapy session. Lebanon.

Eight-year-old Mostafa lives in a make-shift shelter with his older sister, Rawan, and his two brothers. At the end of 2014, they left Syria to escape the fighting and made a field in Lebanon their home. Rawan, 16 years old, now takes care of her three little brothers who are  13, 10 and 8 years-old.

"One night, there was a bombing raid in the area where we lived. A bomb was dropped on our house. My parents, who were inside, lost their lives that day," the young girl explains, "Mostafa was playing outside. My two other brothers and I weren't at home when the bomb hit the house.The neighbours told us what had happened. When we got there we found Mostafa who was seriously injured. It was already night-time and it was impossible to take him to hospital. He had to go all night with nobody there who could soothe the pain or stop the bleeding. The next day, our neighbours helped us take him to hospital."

Mostafa suffered multiple injuries including a fracture to his left leg. For the last few months, he has been receiving care from Handicap International's teams who have helped him to regain his mobility. After several sessions with Mohammad Al Kurdi, a Handicap International physiotherapist, Mostafa has already made progress. "Mostafa is very cooperative. He does the exercises I taught him every day, which is helping him to regain the mobility in his left leg more quickly. I am really pleased, he is doing extremely well," the physio explains.

The association has also referred Mostafa to another organisation for a scan. Handicap International's team will then be able to adapt the help they give him according to the scan results.

"I need to see where the leg is fractured to know whether we need to keep doing exercises or not, and if we do, which ones. In the meantime, we are doing strengthening and balance exercises to try and improve Mostafa's day-to-day life, without risking any further injuries," Mohammad explains.

The family receives monthly financial assistance from Handicap International to help them meet their most urgent needs, such as paying the rent or buying food.

"I have to pay 50 dollars in rent for our shelter every month. But I also have to buy food. The money we get helps, but it is not enough. I have already run up a debt of nearly 500 dollars just at the bakery and the grocer's," the worried teenager tells us.

Mostafa's eldest brother works in the fields during the day to help his sister make ends meet. None of them go to school because they do not have enough money. "I don't have enough to pay for transport to get to school. I know that Mostafa is sad that he can’t go to school any more - he loved it so much," Rawan says. "I like reading and Arabic the most," Mostafa adds with a timid smile. He also confides that he would like to become a doctor.

"It's because he suffered so much on the night of his accident. Now he wants to help others," Zainab Ghazaleh, a social worker for Handicap International, explains.

"What kind of doctor do you want to be, Mostafa?" Zainab asks him.

"A doctor of everything!" he replies with a big smile.

In the meantime, the courageous little boy takes us to see Stella. "Stella is my dog. She's had seven babies!" he says enthusiastically.

Published 29/05/15

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