Eleven-year-old Fetyan was out buying ice-cream with his cousin when he was caught in the middle of a terrorist attack. “It happened on June 23 at precisely 9:30pm,” Mohammad says of the day his son was injured in Mosul. “First, two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the street. Fetyan, his cousin, and the other customers managed to take shelter in the basement of the ice-cream shop. But then a third suicide bomber appeared and ran toward them. He blew himself up just next to my son.”
Mohammad’s eyes fill with tears. “I had a shop in the neighborhood and was working when he had his accident. Not long after the explosions people came to help the wounded. I ran and found my son. His body was covered in burns. I could hardly recognize him. I was so distressed that I started to cry. It was Fetyan who told me to stay strong, that everything would be all right. All his skin was gone, but he was still conscious. He was in a lot of pain but his main thought was to comfort me.”
Fetyan was rushed to hospital, where he had four operations over six weeks. “The doctors took skin from his legs and back and grafted it onto his arms,” explains Mohammad. Now in rehabilitation at Muharibeen Hospital, Handicap International is providing him with care.
Two physical therapists with HI examine Fetyan under the eyes of his parents. “We try to massage his arms and face every night, but it still really hurts him,” explains Fetyan’s mother. The physical therapists examine the impact of the burns on Fetyan’s hands and show him how to care for them. Violette, a physical rehabilitation specialist, says, “He’s unlikely to regain all the movement in his fingers, but we’ll do our best to improve his condition through physical therapy.”
The boy asks if he’ll be able to write again. He has to retake his end-of-year exam, which he missed because of the attack, and today is test day. “My son’s very intelligent,” Mohammad adds. “He loves going to school. I want to do everything I can to make sure he has a bright future. I sold my house and I’ve used up all my savings to make sure he gets better. I’ll carry on fighting until I can’t see the pain in his eyes anymore.”
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.