UAE Helping Hands: Six-year-old victim of Syria bombing struggles with scars of war

Six-year-old survivor of Syrian war needs Dh100,000 to travel overseas for treatment after an attack on her home left her and a cousin with scars that go far beyond skin deep.
Farah Al Mustafa, 6, needs Dh100,000 to pay for corrective surgery abroad after a bomb in Syria disfigured her. Pawan Singh / The National
Farah Al Mustafa, 6, needs Dh100,000 to pay for corrective surgery abroad after a bomb in Syria disfigured her. Pawan Singh / The National

ABU DHABI // Six-year-old Farah Al Mustafa doesn’t remember when a bomb hit her house in Syria three years ago. She doesn’t remember that she was playing with her cousin in the living room while her parents and relatives chatted that evening.

She remembers being on fire and seeing her 12-year-old cousin in a ball of flames. The scars on her face and body are a daily reminder.

“We don’t know how we put the fire out,” says her mother, Worod Koeder. “We kept dunking both girls in barrels of water we had in the house because of the water and electricity cuts in Syria.”

Her daughter was 3 at the time and the cousin was 9. No one was hurt apart from the girls. There was no hospital or clinic open, so Mrs Koeder grabbed her daughter and fled to Turkey.

“We arrived the next day and a hospital immediately took us in and began treating Farah,” she says. However, after less than a month, Farah’s treatment for third degree burns to her face and body was cut short.

“The hospital needed the beds and told us to leave,” says the mother of five.

Her husband, Mohammad Al Mustafa, was working in Sharjah at the time, so he brought his family to the UAE in the hope that his daughter would continue treatment here and his family would be safe.

“We are very lucky to be here but we can’t afford to treat Farah,” the mother says.

Since thebombing, Farah has barely spoken a word. She cowers behind her mother and refuses to leave the house.

“We tried to take her out of the house once but people pointed and stared so she became even more upset,” says Mrs Koeder.

Farah screams when she sees her face in the mirror. The fire not only scarred her features but disfigured her mouth and nose.

“A doctor in the UAE did an operation to widen her mouth and lift her nose,” she says.

“Farah was so happy and smiled for the first time. She believed that her face would look better. The doctor was so surprised that she was brave. He asked her if she was scared and she said that she wasn’t scared and wanted to do the operation. She surprised us all.”

But the operation failed and Farah’s brief happiness ended. Doctors in the UAE told the family that there was no available treatment for Farah and that she would have to travel abroad.

“We can’t afford to do that,” Mrs Koeder says. “My children haven’t been to school in three years because we can’t afford the school fees. How can we afford the operation, travel costs, accommodation, air flights?”

Her husband is a mechanic and earns Dh6,000 a month. Farah’s surgery will cost Dh100,000.

Hisham Al Zahrani, manager of zakat and social services at Dar Al Ber, said: “We are asking for donations to help Farah recover from this horrific accident. Surgery will help her regain her confidence and leave the house without feeling what she describes to her mother as a ‘monster’.

“Farah and her cousin are beautiful young innocent girls who are victims of the events in Syria.”

Farah’s cousin remains in Syria. Her burns are far worse than Farah’s. She has never been to a hospital or clinic because of the conditions there.

Here’s how you can help

Call the hotline at 0502955999, or send a WhatsApp message to the same number. Donations can be made by depositing funds in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank account, Iban number AE9805 000 000 000 11530734 or Dubai Islamic Bank account, Iban number AE8002 4000 352 0443 1952 01. Donations go towards paying Farah’s medical care.

Published: September 24, 2016 04:00 AM


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