“The missiles began to fall in Mosul and I immediately passed out," Salah says of the day his world changed. "I woke up in the hospital. They told me I had shrapnel in my spine and might never walk again. They also told me that my eight-year-old daughter died the same day.” Salah’s eyes starts to tear up.
Now living in Hasansham camp in Iraq, Salah receives rehabilitation care from our team. The temperature at the camp fluctuates between 104 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, making Salah very tired. “It’s so hot here, we can’t stay cooped up inside," he says while tapping his leg with a small wooden spoon. “Since my accident, this spoon has been my best friend. I never let it out of my sight." Salah uses the spoon to relieve pain that has persisted for months.
Mohammad, a physical therapist with Handicap International has been working with Salah for several weeks. The physical therapy sessions seem to help him mourn the loss of his daughter and adjust to his new situation.
“I met Mohammad just after I arrived in the camp. A neighbor came to see me and told me he knew someone who helps people like me. Mohammad gave me a wheelchair and a walker and now he does muscle-strengthening exercises with me. Since I arrived here, Handicap International has been the only organization to assist me. The sessions are helping me move forward.”
When asked about the future, Salah explains that he doesn't know whether or not he'll return to Mosul. “Everything I had there was destroyed. I’m still very affected by my daughter’s death. All I want now is to live in peace, in a country where I can be treated properly."
Mosul emergency: 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.