Go to main content

Sabah, Iraq: “I’ve got my smile back again”

Emergency Rehabilitation
Iraq

Injured in one of Iraq’s many wars, Sabah had his leg amputated many years ago. When Jalawla was captured by the Islamic State group in 2014, he fled the city with his family. They returned to Jalawla in early 2016. Still traumatised by all he went through, Sabah follows psychosocial support sessions supported by one of Handicap International’s teams. The organisation has also provided him with mobility aids to make his life easier.

 Sabah and his family in one of their two rooms.

Sabah and his family in one of their two rooms. | © E. Fourt / Handicap International

Today Handicap International’s mobile team is visiting Sabah in Jalawla. The door is opened by a cheerful little girl, holding a rabbit. “His name is Bobby,” she says excitedly as she leads Shvan, physiotherapist, and Awtar, psychosocial worker, into the family’s living room.

Sitting on the bed donated by Handicap International, Sabah greets Shvan and Awtar, who have been visiting him for several months now. “It’s great to see him smile,” says Awtar. “A few months ago, he was still depressed. He hasn’t had an easy life.”

In 1987, Sahab was working as a deminer in southern Iraq. The Iran-Iraq War was at its height and his job was to clear the mines laid during the conflict. “One day, we were working and soldiers fired at us,” he says. “We ran and climbed over a wall and I fell on a mine. When it exploded, I saw my foot blown from my body. A colleague put me on his back and carried on running.”

When Sabah reached the hospital, surgeons advised an amputation. The accident changed his life and the trauma was difficult to shake off.

Years passed by and Sabah married and had a family. He began to enjoy the little things in life again and seemed to have forgotten his accident, until 2014, when another of Iraq’s wars turned his life upside down again.

“When the Islamic State group arrived in Jalawla, I immediately decided to flee with my family. We left at night, terrified they’d kill us if they saw us. We crossed a bridge and a few minutes later a bomb hit it. It was really dangerous, and my amputation made it harder. It was very difficult. We were so frightened.”

Sabah took refuge with his family in another town where they stayed for over a year. They only came back to Jalawla in February 2016.

“When we arrived, the authorities warned us we’d be shocked. They were right. I didn’t recognise my house when I opened the front door. Everything was gone. They had looted everything. Thank God the walls were still there. Lots of houses were reduced to rubble, so I can’t complain.”

Since his return to Jalawla, Sabah has been helped by Handicap International. “We gave him a toilet chair and a bed because they had stolen everything and he couldn’t do without them,” says physiotherapist Shvan. “I also worked with the governmental hospital to get him a new prosthesis, better adapted to his needs. Today, I want to check what his walking is like.”

The two men head into the courtyard to do his rehabilitation exercises. A little later, at the end of the session, Shvan and Awtar congratulate him on his progress. “We’re so proud of you,” says the psychosocial worker.

“The organisation has helped me a lot. Life is easier now,” adds Sabah, his spirits lifted. Cheered on by his children, he takes a few more steps then says with a smile: “All this effort, I do it for them.”

COUNTRIES

Where we work

Read more

Haitian earthquake victim Moïse is back on the football pitch
© Davide Preti/HI
Emergency Rehabilitation

Haitian earthquake victim Moïse is back on the football pitch

Moïse, who is 14 years old, lost his leg in 2010 when Haiti was struck by a powerful earthquake. With support from Humanity & Inclusion (HI), he has now been fitted with a prosthesis. He meets the HI team regularly to ensure regular adjustments can be made as he grows.

Haiti: 11 years on, HI continues to ensure access to rehabilitation services for people with disabilities
© Nadia Todres/HI
Emergency Rehabilitation

Haiti: 11 years on, HI continues to ensure access to rehabilitation services for people with disabilities

After Haiti was hit by an earthquake on January 12th 2010, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) launched one the biggest emergency responses in its history. The organisation continues to provide support to people with disabilities today.

Smiles behind the masks: The impact of your support in 2020
© Quinn Neely/HI
Emergency Explosive weapons Health Inclusion Prevention Rehabilitation Rights

Smiles behind the masks: The impact of your support in 2020

2020 has been more challenging than anyone could have predicted. But as the year draws to a close, let's take a moment to appreciate the incredible, life-changing work that our dedicated supporters have helped us to deliver.

FOLLOW US