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Ammar after his first eye surgery. (JRS Damascus)

Damascus, 22 March 2018 – “Look, I’m like you now,” says Ammar*, smiling proudly and removing his glasses to demonstrate how he can completely open his eyes.

At 12 years old, Ammar suffers from a genetic condition that makes his eyelids droop. This, in turn, causes his poor eye sight and has damaged his retinas.

His condition worsened once Ammar and his family were displaced from eastern Ghouta six years ago. Soon after their displacement, his father disappeared and, unable to make ends meet, their family was evicted from their home.

Recently, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) was able to accompany Ammar by arranging for him to have a surgery that lifted his eyelids, in preparation for another operation he will need once he is older.

The procedure not only allowed him to open his eyes again but also opened his spirit; he went from sitting alone every day at the JRS Damascus Centre to participating in activities that he had always been fearful of, such as singing.

“Now, I have a group of friends at school. We laugh a lot and do activities all together, and I even go to school alone sometimes,” explains Ammar about how his lifestyle changed after the surgery.  

Although he still needs some help getting to school or navigating his neighbourhood, his situation has drastically improved.

Ammar will continue his studies at the JRS Centre in Damascus where education supervisors will support him with homework and writing so that he can begin to catch up to his classmates.

“I want to become an actor and do all the dancing I can here - I can do a lot."

Only time will tell for certain, but for now, the joy in Ammar’s eyes says so much about his hope for the future.

*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals

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