INARA is a non-profit that provides access to life-altering medical and mental health care to children impacted by human-induced or natural disasters. These children are injured or traumatized by the horrors of war, in the aftermath of conflict, or due to unsafe living conditions or natural disasters.
Conflict impacted children struggle to find someone to support them. At INARA, we step in to provide them with the care they need to heal, recover, and move on.
INARA fills programmatic gaps and takes on cases when no other institution can.
We currently sponsor children of all nationalities in Lebanon and Turkey who need medical attention and psychological help. We have a team of well-trained caseworkers and mental health professionals ready to step in when needed.
INARA was founded in 2015 by Arwa Damon, former CNN Senior International Correspondent, after she bore witness to the suffering of children in warzones for over a decade and a half. Based on Arwa’s experience, INARA was established to specifically address the gaps these children face in access to medical and mental health care and the programmatic gaps in the region.
Arwa and Youssif
The idea behind INARA started with one Iraqi child, Youssif. In 2007, when Youssif was just five years old, he had gasoline dumped on his face and was set on fire by unknown masked men as he stood in front of his home. His father had searched desperately for medical assistance but found none. Arwa reported the story for CNN, resulting in an outpouring of support from around the world. Arwa arranged for Youssif to travel to Los Angles to receive the surgeries and medical care he desperately needed. Now, Youssif doesn’t remember the attack and is no longer held back by his injuries, able to live a well-rounded life, full of potential. His life is no longer defined by cruelty and evil, but rather by kindness and compassion. That is at the core of the work that INARA does and why we believe this work it is so vital. We have the ability to change the narrative of children’s lives.
After Youssif, Arwa felt a profound need to do more, and something was compelling her to challenge the status quo she saw children facing time and time again. After witnessing children become injured and suffer even more after their injuries, because they fell to the wayside, forgotten about once the bombs stopped falling, unable to access care or unable to qualify for aid, Arwa’s conscience no longer allowed her to stand-by.
She took action, conducted a formal needs assessment and in 2015 founded and launched the International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance (INARA), initially funding the organization herself. INARA was established to specifically address the gaps these children face in access to medical and mental health care and the programmatic gaps in the region, and to take on the cases that others don’t.
INARA’s mission is to fill in the gaps in access to life-altering services for children in communities impacted by human-induced and natural disasters.
INARA’s vision is a world where every child has agency to create a dignified life
INARA receives referrals from other NGOs, medical organizations, and individuals. Sometimes, the parents themselves hear about the services we offer and contact us directly on our hotline.
Once a case is referred us, INARA’s team performs a rapid assessment to determine the urgency, the severity of need, and whether they meet INARA’s criteria.
INARA’s criteria are:
0-18 years of age; injured from war, conflict, blasts, or unsafe living conditions.
If they meet INARA’s criteria, they undergo a primary detailed assessment that includes a thorough medical and mental health screening, alongside an analysis of their socio-economic situation as well as other needs. After the assessments, INARA accepts the child into the medical program and if needed into the mental health program as well. INARA staff create and establish the medical and mental health treatment plans simultaneously to ensure a holistic approach to healing and helping the child.
Once they start their medical journey with us, they are assigned a case worker who manages their case and treatment plan, arranges procedures and medical appointments, all while providing a support system for the child and his family through these difficult times.
If a child falls outside of our criteria, we find other organizations that provide the type of treatment the child needs and refer them. INARA follows up with the child and their family to make sure they are receiving the treatment they need.
INARA also accepts children directly into the mental health program, irrespective of medical injury.
Depending on the urgency of the case and capacity, INARA either immediately begins the child’s medical treatment journey or puts the child on the waitlist. Children are prioritized for treatment according to medical urgency, age (to avoid or reverse impact on growth and mobility) and irreversibility of the disability especially in children requiring orthopedic surgeries, where injuries can result in continuous pain, altered immobility, or irreversible disability, and availability of funds. Children are taken off the wait list when another child progresses with their treatment or there is an increase in available funds or caseworker time.
After the initial assessment is conducted, INARA’s team can accept the child into our mental health program, even if he doesn’t need medical care. INARA fully finances their medical treatment and the logistical costs involved in supporting the child throughout the entire length of their treatment. We fundamentally believe it is our humanitarian responsibility to assist children victims of human induced or natural disasters.