Teba Jalil is 6 years old. Come fall, she’ll be in first grade at Taft Elementary School. Her favorite color is purple. She loves the movie “Frozen,” all princesses and talking snowmen.
And on Saturday night, she was stabbed during a birthday party gone bad at Wylie Street Station Apartments. Her liver and pancreas were damaged in the attack. Surgeons operated on the little girl with the big smile twice on Sunday. She remains at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center.
Her mother, Miada Jasim , lies in a hospital bed across town at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. She is paralyzed on her left side, the terrible result of a stab wound in the neck.
Teba's 8-year-old brother, Zine, who is going into third grade, was discharged from the hospital Sunday. On Monday, while visiting his sister at St. Luke's, he showed the bandage in his belly where he had been stabbed.
"I was able to walk, but my belly was hurting," recounted the little boy who likes to read and do math and color and play outside and saw his mother and sister attacked just days before. The first responders "helped me get in the ambulance."
The Jalil family makes up a third of the stabbing victims from the Saturday night attack at the apartment complex just off State Street, three-fourths of a mile northwest of the elementary school. The apartments are home to dozens of refugees from violence-plagued countries like Iraq, Syria and Ethiopia.
Doreen Prohaska, Teba’s kindergarten teacher, considered the senselessness of the assault. A joyous occasion — a 3-year-old girl’s birthday party — shattered by what Boise Police Chief William Bones described as an angry man wielding a knife and exacting vengeance. Teba's family fled violence in its home country of Iraq, only to find it in Boise, its safe haven.
Prohaska and other teachers from Taft Elementary visited the apartments Monday morning to check on their charges and hand out snacks and hugs. But the normally busting complex was largely empty. Children's bicycles lay in the neatly tended grass. A blue Boise State Broncos football was abandoned in the carport.
Well-wishers had left food and flowers, a stuffed elephant, chalk drawings on the sidewalk, hearts and promises that “We stand with you.” Yellow flyers from the International Rescue Committee peeked out of mailboxes. The sidewalks bore circular marks from cleaning equipment that scrubbed the blood away.
Teba “is the most precious little girl,” Prohaska said at the complex. “She is compassionate, loving, tender-hearted. For someone to hurt her breaks my heart. You just look at her sweet face.”
Prohaska paused. Composed herself. She had visited the family just days before.
“She called me last week. ‘Mrs. Prohaska, I miss you’,” the teacher recounted. “I came here with popsicles. Her mom was so gracious. They made tea and little biscuits. Zine was interpreting for Mom. I’d gotten Teba a bike, and he was riding hers because his was broken.”
Prohaska said she spoke with Teba’s grandfather on Sunday night. He told her that he had been in the U.S. for the past seven years. The little girl’s father is a truck driver. Her best friend is named Bete and lives in the apartment complex but was not hurt in the Saturday attack.
“Bete came to the fence yesterday and told me Teba got hurt,” Prohaska said. “Teba is a bright little girl. A bright, happy little girl. With her disposition and her family support, I see her pulling through.”