Iraq: "We had to start from scratch"


Sarmad is holding his infant son, Anas, in his arms. “I’m constantly afraid for him,” he admits. “I’m afraid what happened to me will happen to him."

"I was injured when a car packed with explosives plowed into a group," Sarmad explains. "Dozens of local people came to help us and then a suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of the crowd. It looked like the apocalypse. I was trapped under the rubble for an hour.

"My leg was so badly injured I was taken to the hospital and operated on seven times in 20 days. I was in so much pain I didn’t sleep. When I realized that the doctors had amputated my leg, I thought my life was over.”

While recovering in the hospital, Sarmad’s family called to tell him that the Islamic State captured the city of Jalawla. His relatives fled, and stayed in another city for more than a year.

In early 2016, the authorities told Sarmad's family they could return home. “When we arrived at our house, there was nothing left," Sarmad states. "They had stolen everything. The windows and doors were broken and there wasn't any electricity. The walls were the only thing still standing. We had to start from scratch.”

Shortly after returning to his home, Handicap International met Sarmad. “The first time we met Sarmad, he was depressed because his prosthesis was painful and he couldn’t work,” says Awtar, Handicap International’s psychosocial support specialist. 

Shvan, a Handicap International physical therapist, jumped into action. "We spoke to his doctors and got him a new prosthesis," Shvan explains. "We gave him crutches, a bed, and a chair to help him use the toilet to make life easier."

Sarmad has made a lot of progress, and is now walking on his new leg. A few weeks ago, he started working. “I’m not ashamed of my amputation anymore,” Sarmad says. “Jalawla’s economy is still badly affected by what has happened, but simply going back to work and being the head of the family again has helped a lot.

"Things are so unstable. I only want one thing: I want all these conflicts and divisions to end, so we can feel safe again.”