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“The bomb fell on my children”

Emergency
Iraq

Omar, 11, was injured in a bomb attack in Mosul, last June. After having his left leg amputated, he is now being assisted by a team from Handicap International (HI) in Muharibeen hospital. The physiotherapists provide him with rehabilitation care.  

Omar and Mouna in Muharibeen hospital (Mosul)

Omar and Mouna in Muharibeen hospital (Mosul) | E.Fourt / Handicap International

Omar is lying on the examination table doing his rehabilitation exercises under the watchful eye of Mouna, the organisation’s physiotherapist. Each time he lifts what’s left of his left leg, the boy bites his lip. Two months after his accident, he still experiences searing pain. Haitham, his father, urges him to give it everything he’s got. Worried about his son, he wants to make sure he’ll walk again one day. “It’s his eighth session today,” he explains quietly. “My son’s already made a lot of progress. At the beginning, he couldn’t stand at all. It’s the little signs that keep me going - that’s why I keep urging him on.  Things aren’t easy for us, so seeing him stand keeps my spirits up, despite everything we’ve been through.”

“It was a terrible sight – I’ll never forget it”

When their home in the west of Mosul was hit by a bomb two months ago, Omar and his family lost everything they owned. “We were all together and my children were playing with their cousins in the living room. I just remember the sound and force of the blast. The bomb fell on my children. I ran over to them and found them lying in a pool of blood. It was a terrible sight – I’ll never forget it. Ahmad, my 12-year-old son, had his head half open, and Nava, who was just five years old, had her stomach riddled with shrapnel. And Omar’s leg was in pieces.”

The family spent two weeks in hospital in Mosul, where doctors amputated Omar’s left leg, and his brothers and sisters underwent several operations. They were, later on, taken to three other hospitals for more surgery, due to the severity of their injuries. “It was in one of the health centres that I first heard about Handicap International,” explains Haitham. Omar’s father contacted the organisation and his son began his rehabilitation sessions shortly afterwards. “Our house in the west of Mosul was destroyed so we’re staying with relatives in the east of the city. The fact that the organisation is working in a health centre here is very handy for us. I’m really happy you’re here to help Omar.”

Haitham, who has not worked for several months, says the family is mostly reliant on humanitarian aid. “The fact that people are helping my son to get back on his feet again and to focus on the future gives me hope,” he says, clearly moved. 

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