Twelve-year-old Zakarya is the eighth child of a poor family living in a small village in northern Yemen. His life changed dramatically when he was injured in a rocket attack on his village. "I was outside playing with my friends when a rocket fell into the street and blew up not far from me," he recalls. "The explosion went right through me. I was riddled with shrapnel. I was alone and injured, so I started to scream and cry. You don’t know what it’s like until you’ve been through it."
As there are no hospitals near his home, he was rushed to Sana’a. But his injuries were so grave that surgeons had to amputate his left leg at the thigh.
Like most boys his age, Zakarya loved to run around outside and play soccer with his friends. But suddenly he found himself unable to walk, run or play with his classmates. He felt excluded and fell into a deep depression.
"I was shocked when I was discharged from hospital without one of my legs," he says. "It was horrible. I couldn’t bear to be with other people or even to talk. I felt like they were looking at me with pity all the time."
A new leg
Humanity & Inclusion provided him with crutches, which helped him move around on his own and do things by himself for the first time. It was an important step forward, and one that gave him hope. But he only really began to see an improvement in his condition after he’d started rehabilitation exercises with one of the organization's physical therapists.
Three months after his operation, Zakarya was fitted for an artificial limb. Humanity & Inclusion donors and partners covered the production costs.
Rehabilitation and psychological support
Zakarya started attending group therapy with other children who, like him, had been injured or had had an amputation. It helped him realize he wasn’t alone. There, he began to accept his disability, talk about it and share his feelings, and even made some new friends.
It’s important to combine rehabilitation care with psychological support, explains Ayman, one of HI's physical therapists in Yemen. "We always make sure people get rehabilitation and psychological support. They go hand in hand. Having an amputation is traumatic—physically and psychologically. Some patients refuse to accept what’s happened to them, and they lose interest in life. We help them to recover, use their legs again, and feel better in themselves."
Reviving his dreams
Zakarya is coming to the end of his rehabilitation care. He’s making the most of being a child again and refuses to give up on his dreams: "I want to be a soccer player," he says. "I’m glad I can walk again. I can play with my friends now and go back to school."