Huwayda Khalid: Living with the Scars of War
By: Kamel Jaber
Published Thursday, August 2, 2012
Six years have passed since the attack that robbed the lives of Daoud Khalid and his children Abla (10 years old) and Ahmad (18 months old) overshadowed Debbine, a small village east of Marjayoun. The farmer’s daughters Huda and Huwayda were also injured in the blast, and their home was destroyed.
In this period that marks the commemoration of the July 2006 war, the family has mourned the loss of their loved ones at a simple family iftar “dedicated to the souls of the martyrs who are absent from us,” said Fatima Daoud Khalid.
Huwayda Khalid, who is now 14 years old, is determined to overcome the pain that haunts her. The scars on her beautiful face have started to fade. A few weeks ago, she underwent plastic surgery to heal the visible wounds that were inflicted upon her. Back when she was eight, the Israeli assault not only took her father and her two siblings, but also one of her eyes.
“After today, you will not have to wear glasses anymore,” the doctor who performed the surgery told her. The scars on her cheek, under her right eye, will almost completely disappear, “and will be visible only to someone who meticulously studies her face,” according to her mother Hamida.
Hamida says that her daughter’s operation “cost more than $6,000 [and was performed] at Samir Shehadeh’s clinic at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC).” The doctor performed the surgery in the clinic, in order to cut down costs for the family. Hamida said, “I saved money from selling yoghurt so that I could make Huwayda’s dream and mine come true.”
The girl who has suffered so much is now smiling happily. The Israeli missile that fell near her home on 19 July 2006 took her right eye and severely wounded her right cheek.
Today Huwayda is changed somewhat. A few years after the Israeli assault, she was quiet and withdrawn whenever someone intruded on her home hoping for an interview. Now, she is talkative and responsive, but only away from the camera and the voice recorder.
She does not hesitate to express her delight with the surgery she recently had. “After a second visit, the doctor told us that the procedure had been successful.”
Because of the bandages, Huwayda refused to have her picture taken after the operation, which managed to remove some of the marks of the traumatic event from her face.
“Huwayda will need a couple of months before the marks disappear from her face, and she must not expose it to the sun to avoid inflammations,” her mother says. Here, Huwayda stresses that the doctor told her that everything would return to normal, and asserts, “I am very happy with the surgery.”
Huwayda is fasting for Ramadan, although she looks very thin. Her mother attributes this to her school finals, and says, “Her appetite decreased, and she couldn’t feel at ease until the results came out and she knew she passed to the ninth grade (Brevet).”
The 14 year old girl knows well that July was the month during which her family suffered these horrific injuries and ordeals. Her mother now has to support the family, of which five members remain (Huda, Huwayda, Fatima, Ali and Hadeel), with the help of their cow, and the assistance of her sister-in-law, who also helps her to look after the children, especially after Huwayda’s paternal grandmother Um Walid passed away.
Huwayda celebrated her fourteenth birthday on June 12. In the early summer, after she received her school results, she put her books aside “to rest for awhile.” She is spending her summer at home with her mother, or at her grandfather’s house nearby which overlooks the plain.
“Sometimes, we go to my other grandfather’s house in Sidon,” she says. Huwayda studies at al-Imane school in Habbariyeh, with her two little brothers Ali and Hadeel. “At school, my friends will be surprised to see that the scarring is gone from my face, and will not ask me about what happened to me anymore,” Huwayda proclaims, “I will return to school more beautiful.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.