Nine-year-old Hussein was playing outside his home in Aleppo six weeks ago when an incoming shell struck a neighboring home.
“A shell landed on our next-door neighbor’s roof," His mom, Fotun, said. "Hussein picked up a piece of the debris — it then exploded."
Fotun immediately took him to the hospital but the doctors could do nothing to save Hussein’s right hand. The bones in his left hand and arm were shattered. His injuries were so severe he dipped in and out of consciousness.
“After the injury, my son went through a difficult time,” Fotun said. "He kept shouting 'I want to die'! I was crying, you know how a mother feels. He used to say to me over and over again that he wanted to die because he lost his hand."
Hussein, his four brothers and parents live in Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, where fierce fighting has raged between government forces and multiple opposition groups for four years. ussein’s home is close to one of the front lines, and his neighborhood comes under frequent attack.
Hassan, his father, desperately wants to move the family to the safety of neighboring Turkey where his son can receive proper medical care. Huseein needs further treatment on his left hand and arm — he has gone through several painful corrective surgeries and still visits a local clinic every 10 days. Doctors say Hussein may never regain control of his left hand.
The family is destitute. They have already moved twice in the past two years after their homes were destroyed by shelling. They moved into their current apartment after it was abandoned by a family who fled the city. The neighbors donated blankets and a TV. Hassan is unable to work after being shot in the leg while fighting with a rebel group.
Hussein has so far refused to say anything about the day he lost his hand. His mother said before the explosion, her son was, “very active and loved life, but now he doesn’t talk much.”
The same day Hussein and his family were interviewed for this story, another air raid struck their neighborhood. They were not injured, but some of their neighbors weren't as fortunate.
Malek Blacktoviche contributed to this report.