Kenzi Adam al-Madhoun loves to swim.
The 5-year-old received a swimming certificate this past August. She would swim with her father at the beach or in pools.
He calls her “butterfly” because of the way she flutters her hands while swimming.
On 21 October, an Israeli bombing injured Kenzi and she had to have her right arm amputated.
The bombing killed her grandfather and injured her mother Yusra el-Khairy, her grandmother and her aunt.
“I was crying inside, I couldn’t believe it. I was saying, ‘This is my baby, my butterfly, she can’t die, she’s strong,’” Adam said.
Kenzi spent a week in intensive care in a coma, and then underwent an operation at the al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital, central Gaza.
When Kenzi woke up, she asked her father where her hand was. He couldn’t answer her.
When she asked about her grandfather, her father told her he was fine, even though he had been killed in the bombing.
From Jabaliya to Deir al-Balah
In the days following 7 October, the al-Madhoun family evacuated their home in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip following Israeli army orders to do so.
The family walked for a week. They eventually arrived at the Nuseirat camp in the Deir al-Balah governorate.
The al-Madhoun family took refuge in a warehouse with 35 other people. It was a narrow space, about 16 square meters, but Adam al-Madhoun found it preferable to taking shelter in an overcrowded school.
Five days later, they moved to the city of Deir al-Balah to the home of his father-in-law.
“We started to adapt to the harsh conditions of life,” he said.
The family waited in line at bakeries and for drinking water, and would sometimes have to search all over for available supplies.
“I was in Nuseirat camp looking for flour for my family, and then I received a call that my [father-in-law’s] home had been shelled,” he said.
He ran to al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital to find them, but he still didn’t understand what had happened. There were so many injured and martyrs in the hospital that his wife Yusra and his daughter Kenzi, though gravely injured, could barely find space to sit on the hospital floor.
He remained in the hospital for a month as his wife and daughter received treatment.
Adam al-Madhoun explained that Kenzi’s right hand, all the way up to her shoulder, was amputated shortly after the bombing. She also had a fractured skull, a broken pelvis and a broken leg.
Surgeons performed a third operation on her bladder, which had been ruptured.
Several metal plates were going to have to be installed throughout her body. Furthermore, her skull was exposed.
Doctors said that she would need treatment abroad, since they did not have the capacity or tools to perform the operation.
Adam is currently waiting to travel with her for treatment.
When Kenzi was 2 years old, she memorized bits of the Quran and also Mahmoud Darwish’s poem, “Write down, I am an Arab.” She loves to stay active, whether with swimming or karate.
Kenzi loves Egyptian songs.
“I sing to her at the moment,” Adam said. “Even on the bed, she can’t move. I want to install a prosthetic [arm].”
Adam said he knows that she will survive this, that she will have a future.
“Nothing will beat her,” he said. “She survives because she loves life.”
Amjad Ayman Yaghi is a journalist based in Gaza.