Iraqi boy recovers in Howell after horrific accident leaves him disfigured

Toddler heals far from refugee family

HOWELL, Mich. – A 2-year-old Iraqi Yazidi boy whose family escaped terrorism perpetrated by the Islamic State has been living in Michigan without his parents for three months.

Dilbireen Muhsin has been living in Howell, Michigan, with Adlay Kejjan, who agreed to take care of him while his parents were in Iraq.

Muhsin's mother and family escaped genocide from ISIS in 2014. They had to leave the Sinjar region in northern Iraq after the Islamic State took over and fled to Mount Sinjar where they were stranded without food and water. The family was then taken to Camp Qadia in Duhok Governorate, a refugee camp in northern Iraq where Dilbireen was born. He was named Dilbireen because it means "wounded heart" in Kurdish.

"Because of everything they went through that ISIS did to them, that's how they felt," Kejjan said

However, Dilibreen was involved in an accident at the refugee camp when a heater exploded. He was sleeping in his crib while his mother was outside baking bread. Dilibreen was severely burned. Three months after the explosion, an organization, Road to Peace, visited the camp and met Dilibreen. The organization found a hospital in Boston wiling to help Dilibreen get the proper care he needed that he could not receive in Iraq.

His father traveled to Boston with him for the treatments, but returned to Iraq for the birth of his second son, Trump, who was named after President Donald Trump. Kejjan heard about Dilibreen's story and traveled to Boston agreeing to take Dilibreen to Michigan for about six weeks until his father returned.

The parent's visas had previously been approved, but when Dilibreen's parents tried to get Trump's visa approved, it was denied in December before the travel ban took place. In January, the family applied for another visa for Trump, but it was denied and Dilibreen's parents also had their visas that were previously approved, revoked.

"It's been emotionally and mentally painful for them," Kejjan said.

Road to Peace and Kejjan's organization, Yazidi American Women Organization, and others reached out to local senators and they were able to get another interview for Dilibreen's family on Feb. 5 for new visas, but the family got caught in the travel ban and were not able to come.

"They said 'no' we can't issue any visas for the next 90 days and that was heartbreaking for them," Kejjan said.

Then last week, the family got approval before the Federal Appeals Court ruling rejecting the travel ban.

"That was the first time I saw his parents happy and smile," Kejjan said.

However, it is bittersweet for Kejjan because she has grown attached to Dilibreen.

Dilibreen will reunite with his family in Boston next week where he will undergo more surgeries. The family plans to stay in the United States for about a year until Dilibreen has completed his surgeries. The family will then return to Iraq.

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