The Greatorex family are raising funds to pay medical expenses for our foster brother Hassan, who turned 18 in September. Hassan has facial scars that deeply affect his confidence, and which require expert plastic surgery.
Born in the Kordofan region of Sudan, Hassan arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied child refugee in September 2019, aged 17. He had been travelling alone since he left Sudan at 15, fleeing unimaginable terror and loss.
We have decided not to share the details of how Hassan received his scars, simply because they’re too upsetting. For him, the scars are a constant reminder of his trauma in Sudan and what he faced on his journey.
We tried hard but were refused an appointment to see an NHS plastics consultant and Hassan was instead offered anti-depressants. However, we’ve now found a wonderful consultant surgeon in Bristol, Jonathan Pleat of the Scar Team, who can carry out the operation privately and cheaply. All we need to do is raise the funds.
War leaves many kinds of scars: Hassan’s story
Hassan’s birthplace, the Kordofan region in the South of Sudan, is an area overrun by the Janjaweed militia , mounted gunmen whose ongoing battles with other rebel factions have long played a major role in the complex situation in Sudan, most notably the Darfur conflict .
The trademarks of the Janjaweed (literal translation: ‘devils on horseback’) are brutal beatings and killings, systematic looting and burning of homes and crops, forced displacement and the rape of women and children. Sexual violence against the darker skinned, settled rural communities of the area is a racial rallying call for the Janjaweed. After witnessing the unthinkable brutality of a Janjaweed raid, if children like Hassan don’t flee, the Janjaweed will soon return to forcibly recruit them.
So at 15 years old Hassan took the familiar refugee route through Libya, where like many unaccompanied child refugees he was captured and held as slave labour. He was fortunate enough to escape, only to endure the treacherous sea crossing to Italy. In 2018, the year that he crossed, 4503 people drowned in the Mediterranean attempting to reach the safety of Europe.
Hassan spent many desperate weeks in Calais before managing to cross to the UK by hiding in the camping trailer of an unsuspecting family who were on their way back from holiday. When Hassan was brought by the Gloucester police to our Mum & Dad’s house, the first thing he said was that he wanted to play for Liverpool, and that he needed help for his face.
Hassan has been granted asylum by the UK Home Office, and is now studying English and Maths at Bristol College. Since he turned 18 he is no longer officially fostered, but he’s staying in the attic room of our Mum & Dad’s house in Brislington.
Hassan is a total football nut, and has spent lockdown continuing to study despite the interruption to his courses. He is incredibly hard working – while in Europe, he taught himself Arabic writing and reading just by using his phone, having never been to school in Sudan. He doesn’t make friends easily at college as his scars make him very self-conscious, but he retains a close group of young Sudanese companions from his time in Calais.
Hassan’s surgery and the costs
After Hassan turned 18 in September 2020, our surgical consultant Jonathan Pleat performed a test surgery on one of Hassan’s smaller scars. He needed to check that Hassan would be happy with the results and that it wouldn’t lead to a further keloid scar, as can often happen with darker skin tones.
Hassan’s treatment is called Scar Revision. Dr Pleat is on Bristol’s Scar Team and also works for the research charity Restore , exploring new methods in scar treatment. He is keeping Hassan’s treatment as affordable as possible.
Dr Pleat now says that Hassan is one of his “top ten healers”, as just three months later the new scar is barely visible. Hassan is absolutely delighted, albeit a little frustrated with the slow process of testing and waiting. The test surgery and initial consultation cost £1350, which the family have paid.
Mr Pleat will see Hassan again in March to check his progress. He then intends to carry out two further surgeries in April and September 2021, tackling 4 scars each time. As the operating theatre and medical team are ‘rented’ by the hour, each surgery session will cost just £1500 each.
The total we need to raise is £3000.
Please help us to treat and remove Hassan’s scars. We know the treatment works, we know how much happier he will be, all we need to do is raise the funds.
- Anvita Bahel
- Amy Martin
- Regina King
- Mark Robinson
- Ros Guthrie
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