ALEPPO, Syria — MARWAN was on the operating table when the lights blinked and fizzled out. I turned on the headlamp I wear for situations like these, but it flickered, indicating low batteries. The nurse to my left pulled her cellphone from her pocket and turned it on, creating the only light in the pitch-black basement. Others in the room followed suit with their phones, shining the devices at the wound and producing just enough light to allow me to finish repairing the little boy’s broken body.
Marwan had arrived at my field hospital, which was built underground to avoid bombardment, after losing his mother, sister and both of his legs in a barrel bomb attack late last year. In recovery after the surgery, he asked me in a timid voice, “Will I be able to go to school anymore?”