At the foot of the mountains near the Iran border in Iraqi Kurdistan, Awyar, 6, and his father Razgar stand holding hands. As the Handicap International car pulls in front their house, Awyar smiles and greets Hardi, his physical therapist. The father and son invite Hardi into their home.
Hardi starts by asking Razgar to show him the exercises he has been doing with his son since their last session. Razgar takes his son’s rehabilitation sessions very seriously. He concentrates hard as he goes through the physical therapy exercises and Awyar laughs gleefully when he looks at him. “Razgar’s support is probably why Awyar has made so much progress,” Hardi says.
As his Awyar follows the Hardi instructions for how to perform new exercises, his father explains the boy’s situation: “When Awyar was born, we had no idea anything was wrong. But a few days after his birth, I realized that my son couldn’t move his right arm and I got worried. I consulted dozens of doctors, who all had different explanations. It took a year to find out what was really wrong with Awyar. When we realized he had cerebral palsy, we started physical therapy straightaway.”
Razgar decided to devote himself to Awyar’s well being, driving long distances several times a month to access care. At the start of the year, Handicap International launched a rehabilitation project in the family’s home region. The project improves access to services for people with disabilities in Iraq. Now, Razgar doesn’t need to spend hours on the road to make sure his son gets physical therapy sessions. Hardi comes straight to them.
The session continues and Razgar shares his hopes for Awyar: “Before Handicap International began coming to our home for these sessions, my son’s movements were very slow and he didn’t move around much. Now he can walk a little, eat, and go to the bathroom by himself: It’s a huge step forward. I’d like him to go to school soon, but we live in a mountainous region and the buildings are difficult to access. There are stairs everywhere and it’s a complicated environment for Awyar. But I get him to climb up and down the steps in front of our house every day, to get him used to it. I want him to be more independent, that’s why it’s really important to me that he goes to school. Although he can’t express himself fully yet, his smile always reassures me.”
The session comes to an end and Awyar comes to sit on his father’s lap. He looks admiringly at Hardi while the physical therapist puts away his equipment. Razgar notes, “I think my son would like to be a physical therapist one day too.”