FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Stitching Up Injured Children

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:
September 19, 2018
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail