“On February 26, we fled Mosul because the fighting had reached our district and our house was near the front line," explains Hossam's father, Anis. "We were displaced several times in the city before we decided to leave, because life was just too hard. We took refuge in Qayyarah camp, to the south of Mosul. Life certainly wasn’t easy there either, but at least we were safe. Until one day, Hossam was out playing with his friends at the camp and part of a wall fell on him and broke his leg.”
Ten-year-old Hossam was rushed to the city’s hospital, where he was operated on. A few days later, he met Khaled, one of Handicap International’s physical therapists, but was still too weak to start rehabilitation sessions at that time. “They transferred my son to a hospital in Hamdaniya. This hospital mainly treats people who need a lot of post-operative care. My son started his physical therapy sessions here with HI.”
Stretched out on his hospital bed, time seems to pass by slowly for Hossam. He has lost interest in the coloring books and large ball that had kept him amused when he arrived three months ago. Curious and energetic by nature, the only thing Hossam is in a hurry to do is get out of his room so that he can run around outside and play with his friends. He also says he’s looking forward to going back to school – one of the things he misses most about what he calls his “old life.” The heavy plaster cast around his right leg makes that impossible, at least for now.
In the meantime, Hossam says he does his exercises every day. “I really like doing them, it helps pass the time,” he tells Mouna, a physical therapist with Handicap International. As the session comes to an end, Mouna asks Hossam what he’d like to be when he grows up. The boy is silent for a few seconds and then replies enthusiastically: “I think I’d like to be an engineer, like my dad!” Looking fondly at his son, Anis replies: “All of that is a long way off yet. All we want to do right now is return home. I want to work again and rebuild my house. We want to pick up life where we left off.”
Fighting between armed groups and government forces in Iraq in recent years has displaced more than three million people. An estimated 11 million civilians already need humanitarian assistance in the country. The Mosul offensive has presented international organizations with an unprecedented challenge. More than 485,000 people have fled the city since last October.
Handicap International and the Iraqi crisis
More than 200,000 people have benefited from Handicap International’s actions since the launch of its emergency operations in Iraq in 2014. Our actions are regularly reviewed to take into account a highly volatile situation across the whole of Iraqi territory. Handicap International currently organizes population protection activities, raises awareness of the risk from mines and conventional weapons, conducts non-technical surveys and clears potentially hazardous areas, provides physical and functional rehabilitation and psychosocial support, supports health centers, organizes training and advocacy, and provides technical support to partners to enhance the inclusion of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, casualties, older people, and others) within their services.