FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Stitching Up Injured Children

by JEN MARLOWE

Bahrain.

It was nighttime, and we were watching from some distance, but we believe we saw the shot hit somebody in the head, the boy was injured in the same neighborhood, and his was the only head injury from that particular neighborhood on that particular night.

By the time we arrived at the “clinic” the boy’s wound had been cleaned and the hair around it was shaved, prepared for stitching.

About the boy: he was thirteen years old, small and skinny, wearing a red t-shirt with white stripes and was terrified. Not only had his head been split open when the protest ended in clashes and a tear gas canister was fired directly at him by the riot police, but his fifteen-year-old brother had also been arrested, and the brother’s fate was unknown. When the boy covered his face with his hands and began to weep, it was for his brother, he told us, not because of his wound.

About the “clinic”: it was the living room of a family who had made it available for this purpose. The boy sat on a thin mat on the floor, two women nurses wearing black abayas and hijabs crouched down next to him, gauze, cotton balls, ointment and rubber gloves strewn on the floor between them.

If the boy’s family took him to a proper clinic or to the hospital, he might be arrested for having participated in a protest. If the nurses treating him were discovered, they, too might face arrest.

“But we have to do something,” one nurse, a young woman with a quiet voice and flashing eyes said to me. “When I see this happening, especially to the children, I can’t just sit and do nothing.”

Would she say that on camera, with her face covered, I ask.

She smiled and shook her head no. “I was already arrested and they know me and even my voice. It is too risky.” She showed me a bone in her body that had been broken from torture she received during her last imprisonment and how it had not healed properly and never would, even after two surgeries.

The women turned their attention back to the boy who was crouched on the mat, head buried between his knees, waiting for what was to come. The nurses told him to lay face down on the mat and began their work, without anesthesia. The boy screwed up his face and squeezed his muscles against the pain, but he did not cry. With primitive instruments and deft, gentle fingers, the women stitched his gaping wound closed, and bandaged his head with gauze.

The nurses returned the scant medical supplies to a suitcase as the boy sat up and gingerly explored his bandage with his fingers.

The next day, the boy would be in great pain, vomiting, unable to eat. His family would wonder if they should take him to the hospital after all, but how to explain the cause of the injury, how to explain that the wound was already stitched?

For the moment, however, the ordeal of the treatment was over, the boy had survived the pain, and he had been brave.

This was but one boy, hit by one tear gas canister, being treated at one underground “clinic.”

How many like him lay on mats in apartments across Bahrain, as nurses and doctors work clandestinely and at great risk to themselves with crude supplies and quick fingers, stitching up their injured children?

JEN MARLOWE is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, author, playwright, human rights advocate, and founder of donkeysaddle projects. Her current book is, The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian’s Journey from Prisoner to Peacemaker, (Nation Books) co-written with and about Palestinian peace activist Sami Al Jundi. Her previous book was Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival. You can follow her on twitter at @donkeysaddleorg or on Facebook at donkeysaddle projects.

This article originally appeared on Witness Bahrain.

More articles by:
February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail