Mosque shooting victim Alen Alsati is recovering in Starship Children’s Hospital with her family, while a Givealittle page for her and her dad has raised more than $40,000.
The 4-year-old, who has been in a critical condition at Starship children’s hospital, woke up from a coma earlier this week after undergoing multiple surgeries.
She has suffered brain damage along with other injuries after being shot several times at a terror attack at the Al Noor Mosque last month.
An update on a Givealittle page set up on behalf of her father Wasseim Alsati to help support the family said Alen is beginning to respond to questions with one word answers.
She had managed to swallow some water, but was not yet able to consume solids, Wasseim’s update read.
“Please keep praying with us – every small development is very exciting.”
Wasseim, a father-of-four, was also shot numerous times during the terror attack on March 15.
He told the Weekend Herald he had “cried and cried” when he learnt his daughter had suffered brain damage.
Alen had made some progress and could now recognise her mother’s voice. But doctors said it could be up to six months before they had a clear idea of her long-term prognosis.
“My daughter doesn’t recognise nobody yet. She can’t speak, see, talk or eat by herself. She has a tube in her nose. She is not listening or communicating – it is heartbreaking,” he said.
“We don’t know how long she will be like that. It could be forever. We are very emotional and always crying”.
The images of that day haunt him, even in his sleep.
“I have nightmares all the time. You can’t express it or talk about it. You cannot imagine how bad it is – it is unbearable and painful. Every time I still hear and feel the shots coming at me and my legs collapsing” .
Alsati has had surgery to remove shrapnel and bone out of his hip socket and surgery for a perforated bowel and injury to his pelvis.
He still can’t walk properly but hopes to be released from hospital today. He will move to a new home near Auckland hospital before starting rehabilitation in three weeks.
His daughter’s journey is far more complicated.
“I was very depressed [after the news she has brain damage] but refuse to take pills for my sadness. I feel the faith I have and the prayers from all the people in Auckland and Christchurch keep me upbeat.”
Alsati says he is stressed having to provide for his family while he recovers.
“I am under a lot of pressure dealing with everything on my own. I am trying to provide for my family of six. It’s very hard because I can’t work any more”.
He is, however, grateful that his mother, brothers Nadeem and Sabri, and his mother-in-law have flown to New Zealand to support his wife, Asma Daraghmeh, and their children.
“My family want to relocate to New Zealand but they need permanent residence. I need 18 months ’til I start walking again. We have only seen each other once in four years. They are happy to stay and support us. They have seen how safe it is and how much our government has given us”.
The award-winning Jordanian barber had to close his hairdressing business after the attacks.
The Givealittle page set up on Thursday had raised a little more than $40,179, by 4pm today.
The page was set up to raise funds for Alen and Wasseim’s ongoing medical care.
Another page set up for the family shortly after the mosque attacks raised around $46,000, before it closed last month.