Child Victims in Syria Brought to the US for a Second Chance

Child+Victims+in+Syria+Brought+to+the+US+for+a+Second+Chance

Makenzy Ohmer

15-year-old Hamama was once playing in the mountains with her animals in her poor family’s remote farm in the Homs countryside. In the next moment all of her family, much of her memory, and almost her entire face was gone.

Because of the U.S advocacy group Burnt Children’s Relief Foundation (BCRF) and American medical professionals, with support from the state department to navigate the murky and complex terrain of visa red tape, Syrian children like Hamama have a second chance.

Hamama has been blinded in one eye, her skin burned raw and her hair all gone, and each breath she takes is not without a struggle. Her own reflection is still haunted by a momentary wince, however there are no tear ducts left.

Dr. Christine Fortmann, delicately paints a replica of Hamama’s skin tone onto the carefully sculpted silicone. This is her fourth prosthetic nose appointment the next time she will likely get to go home with her coveted facial feature.

While undergoing treatment, she shares a small apartment in Southern California’s Orange County with fellow Syrian burn victim Ayshea, just 8-years-old, who breaks hearts in the ward when she dons her lab coat and purports to help her roommate on the morning before surgery.

Ayshea is determined to grow up to be a doctor specializing in treating burn victims just like herself. “Everyone said Ayshea had no chance of living,” Baaj noted “But she survived it.”

Hamama was the eldest patient at age 17 when she arrived stateside last year – orphaned and all alone. the patients are permitted to travel with one female family member and caregiver.

Lakewood High School senior Alesondra McKissick says “I think it’s a good thing, getting a prosthetic nose and coming to the U.S is a very good start for her as she gets away from all the dangerous things going on in Syria.”