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"A rocket blew up not far from me"

Explosive weapons Rehabilitation
Yemen

Twelve-year-old Zakarya is the eighth child of a poor family who live in a small village in northern Yemen. His life changed dramatically when he was injured in a rocket attack and doctors had to amputate his left leg.

Zakarya (on the second row) walks in the street with his prosthesis.

Zakarya (in the background) walks in the street with his prosthesis. | © Ayman / HI

Zakarya was seriously injured when a single rocket fell on his village. As there are no hospitals near his home, he was rushed to Sana’a where surgeons amputated his left leg at the thigh.

Trauma

The violent attack has left its mark on him:

"I was outside playing with my friends when a rocket fell into the street and blew up not far from me. 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."

Feeling excluded

Like most boys his age, Zakarya loved to run around outside and play football 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. 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."

From crutches to a prosthesis

Given crutches by HI, he was able 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 organisation's physiotherapists. Three months after his operation, Zakarya was fitted with a prosthesis, for which HI covered the production costs. He's been wearing it for two weeks now.

Knowing you’re not alone

Zakarya also started going to a psychological support group with other children who, like him, had been injured or had had an amputation. It helped him realise he wasn’t alone, and he began to accept his disability, talk about it and share his feelings, and even made some new friends.

Rehabilitation and psychological support

According to Ayman, one of HI's physiotherapists, it’s important to combine rehabilitation care with psychological support:

"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."

Keeping his dreams alive

Zakarya is coming to the end of his rehabilitation care now. He’s making the most of being a child again and refuses to give up on his dreams:

"I want to be a footballer. I’m glad I can walk again. I can play with my friends now and go back to school."

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