x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Little Lujain faces long road back

Lujain Hussein, the 11-year-old girl who was assaulted in her school playground, will need months of intensive treatment and counselling to ensure her brain stays active.

Lujain with her mother Maha at their home in downtown Abu Dhabi.
Lujain with her mother Maha at their home in downtown Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Lujain Hussein, the 11-year-old girl who was assaulted in her school playground, will need months of intensive treatment and counselling to ensure her brain stays active.

Lujain's doctor said she was in a critical period and needed to exercise her brain.

"She needs to have educational counselling and she needs to have a specialised tutor so she can catch up with her peers," said Dr Hasnain Haider-Shah.

"I think the Abu Dhabi Education Council [Adec] is probably the prime mover on a topic like this. They would be the ones who can help her, get somebody who can tutor her and provide that special help she needs."

Lujain was admitted to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City with a brain haemorrhage after an assault by boys at Al Maali International Private School on April 19.

She spent two weeks in a medically induced coma and was discharged from the hospital last month.

Lujain has traumatic brain injury syndrome and lost some peripheral vision in both eyes. Testing will determine the extent of the neurological damage.

A girl with a shy smile who loves maths and English, she was bullied for more than a year before the attack. Her mother said she would come home with bruises but when she would ask her what happened, Lujain would go quiet and say they happened by themselves.

"It didn't come in our mind that this was happening," said her mother, Maha.

"She doesn't complain about anyone. She doesn't like to blame people, that's her personality."

The family living room has teddy bears, a poster from friends wishing her love and a box of love letters and poems from her classmates.

One says: "Dear Lujain, I love you so much and if you remember me or not I still love you … I don't want you to get hurt again. I will help you even if I get hurt like you."

"You know, she doesn't let anybody be sad," said Maha. "She doesn't let anybody fight."

Lujain's family will ask Adec to help them to find a tutor and a school where she feels safe so she can catch up with her peers.

"God willing, she will be OK but we need help from Adec," said Maha. "We asked them for help but still they did not give us answers. They said let her heal."

The parents will give medical reports to the school and Adec to show they need educational support. Lujain has already missed two months of school.

"In order to recover from that she requires very intense physical, educational and occupational therapy," said Dr Haider-Shah. "She's still a child. She will be able to recover if she gets treatment right away."

The parents should approach the school first for support and if they have any grievances they can go to Adec, said a source at the council.

"Adec told us before to put her health before her education but the doctor advises us to continue her education," said Lujain's brother, Mahran. "At the beginning they didn't help her, but now they should."

Maha does not feel that it is safe for her daughter to return to the same school.

The family are Palestinian-Iranian and have lived in the UAE for 36 years. They have no health insurance. Their father is in the process of renewing his trade visa.

"We wish that somebody would pay the expenses for the treatment because everything that happened, happened at the school," Mahran said.

Scans showed Lujain had an existing aneurysm but the attack probably triggered the haemorrhage.

Lujain's family have not heard from the boys who attacked her or their parents.

Maha advises parents to "check your children and ask all the time. Don't believe them if they say nothing. Ask the school and ask their friends."

Lujain does not speak about what happened that day. When it is mentioned, her soft smile disappears.

"We thank people so much for their prayers," said her mother. "You know we cannot live without her. She's the one who usually takes care of us."

Lujain is the youngest of four siblings.

Her brother said: "It's like a miracle when she woke up in the hospital. She's the smallest in the family and she's so lovely and she wouldn't like to see anybody sad.

"Even when her friends sometimes fight she brings peace between them."

azacharias@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Afshan Ahmed