Amanda Davidson is a photojournalist and multimedia producer with The Enquirer
I met Rawan Mubarak on my birthday back in early June, and three months later, I’ve come to realize that the time I got to spend with her was a true gift and a reminder to never take anything for granted.
Rawan, 9, of Damascus, Syria, has seen and endured things in her short life that I can’t even imagine.
About a year and a half ago, in the beginning stages of Syria’s civil war, Rawan and members of her family ran to a neighboring home as shells exploded all around them. Shrapnel tore into her torso and right arm. She was hospitalized and parts of her stomach and intestines were removed. Her right arm was gone.
Rawan says that she was really sad when she lost her arm, but these days you would never know it. She’s always smiling.
She is the first child injured in the Syrian civil war to be brought to Cincinnati by the local chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. The nonprofit covered all of her expenses and with the help of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and JF Rowley Prosthetic and Orthotic Laboratory, Rawan received a new prosthetic arm.
“I told her the new arm will be to help her, but it would not be a regular arm,” said Malak Falah. Malak and her husband, Saleh, hosted Rawan in their West Chester home. They became a surrogate family, as well as interpreters to the Arabic-speaking girl.
On June 10, Rawan was extremely excited for her first visit to Children’s, knowing she would be getting a new arm. But disappointment sank in when she realized the arm wasn’t real. Making matters worse, she also needed surgery to remove bone spurs, to ensure her prosthetic would have a proper fit and not cause discomfort. Surgery also meant that Rawan would be in Cincinnati six weeks longer than expected.
The Falah family made it a mission to ensure that Rawan would not be discouraged. In the following weeks, Rawan tried all sorts of new things including swimming, rock climbing and horseback riding. She became a fixture in the Falah’s West Chester home but remained in contact with her family back in Syria through texting and Skype.
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