Chapter IV: Wounded


It’s easy to understand why Bushra Jugol would be so closely connected to her phone. Oblivious to the conversation in the room, her thumb slides again and again across its screen. “Before she first arrived in the hospital, she just watched television, but now she’s happy because she can move her thumb,” her mother says. “That’s why she’s always with her mobile.”



Bushra, 12, spends all day lying in bed. She can barely lift her neck due to an injury sustained when she was shot in the back. Syrian troops attacked the car she was travelling in with her father, mother and grandfather. They killed her father and shot Bushra and her mother, according to the family. Her mother was shot in the leg and has difficulty walking. Bushra can’t walk at all.

The little girl only lets go of the phone when one of the people she’s happiest to see arrives: her physiotherapist. They start her exercises. She tries to hold her arm up in the air. The doctor pulls on her hands to try to sit her up. Dressed in a red jumpsuit, Bushra sits there for a few seconds, her head hanging forward. The physiotherapist flexes her knees. They talk as they continue the session.


The physiotherapist is one of the people Bushra is happiest to see | ANNA SURINYACH

“When I sleep my legs hurt,” she says.

“And what do you do to fall asleep?”

“I think about my father. I would like to join him.”

“You shouldn’t think about death,” says the doctor. “You should be proud of your father. He didn’t want to die: he was killed.”

When the exercises end, Bushra immediately grabs the mobile phone again. “Losing her father was very traumatic,” says Hulut, the MSF community worker who visits the family. “She sees him in her dreams, she remembers that moment. We are working to help her remember other images of him, like when he brought her toys.”

When Bushra unlocks the mobile, the screen lights up. The wallpaper image is of a young man with a moustache and a scarf with red and white squares. Sitting in his lap, there is a smiling girl.

Bushra closes her eyes. She wants to retain that image of her father. Of both of them together.