Go to main content

“A missile fell right next to us”

Abdullah was injured in an explosion in Mosul, last May. Now displaced with his family in a camp located east of the city, the teenager receives assistance from Handicap International (HI), including rehabilitation care to help him recover from a broken leg.

Addallah_testimony

Abdullah and his older brother play draughts in their tent. | © E. Fourt / Handicap International

When HI’s physiotherapist, Mohammad, enters the family tent, Abdallah and his older brother are playing draughts. They’re using stones picked up earlier from a camp road for the black and white draughts pieces. The draught board is a square of wood scored with pencil lines. Mohammad sits next to them and waits for the game to end. “Times like these are important,” he explains. “They help Abdallah forget his pain for a while.” After a few minutes, the game is over and the physiotherapy session can begin.

The teenager pulls back his trouser to reveal the external fixations in his upper right leg. “He suffered a serious fracture in an explosion,” explains Mohammad as he starts a series of rehabilitation exercises. While he does the movements recommended by Mohammad, Abdallah describes what happened to him: “I was sitting in the street with my best friend. Suddenly, a missile fell right next to us and there was a huge blast. Then I couldn’t feel anything. I tried to get up three times but each time I fell down again. My leg was covered in blood. I tried to crawl over to my friend and cried out for help. The neighbours came and laid us on blankets and then took us to hospital. I was in surgery for two hours. My best friend died two or three days later. That’s my story.”


Acute distress

Abdullah fights back the tears for a moment and then continues with his story. He recalls the weeks spent in Mosul after his accident, before he was able to leave the city with his family. It was okay to start with,” he says. “We stayed at home and I played board games... But after a while, I started to feel anxious, I couldn’t keep calm anymore. I used to fight with the others, and shout, and get angry about everything. If someone sat next to me, I’d hit them. Or I’d tell them to leave, because I was irritable. I was so bored.”  

“A lot of people like Abdullah have felt or still feel very distressed,” explains Mohammad. “That’s partly why we offer psychological support sessions as well as rehabilitation care. It’s vitally important that people can talk about what they’ve been through to recover mentally, as well as physically.”

As Mohammad chats with the teenager and helps him through his exercises, he tries to focus on the present. What does he think of camp life? “I stay in my tent in the morning. And in the afternoon I go to school. They teach me lots of things. It’s what I like best about my life at the moment,” explains Abdullah. “I think I’d like to be a teacher,” he adds. “I’d like to teach other people to read and write.” As the session draws to a close, the teenager also shares his hopes for the weeks and months ahead. “My greatest wish right now is to stand again,” he says. Mohammad replies with a smile: “If you carry on doing your exercises, your dream will soon come true.”

Abdallah and Mohammad at the end of the session. © E. Fourt / Handicap International

 

 

Where your
support
helps

PRESS CONTACT

CANADA

Gabriel PERRIAU

USA

Mica BEVINGTON

 

Help them
concretely

To go further

Nepal earthquake: inseparable Nirmala and Khendo
© Elise cartuyvels/HI

Nepal earthquake: inseparable Nirmala and Khendo

On 25 April 2015, Nepal was hit by a violent earthquake. Hundreds of kilometres apart, Nirmala and Khendo were both buried under the rubble. Rushed to hospital, they each had a leg amputated. This is where they met, attended rehabilitation sessions with HI’s physiotherapists, and learned to walk. Three years on, they are almost never apart and even go to school together. Their dream? To dance again.

East Ethiopia: the forgotten crisis
© HI

East Ethiopia: the forgotten crisis

The grazing regions of Oromia and Somali in southern and eastern Ethiopia have witnessed an escalation in inter-ethnic violence in recent months. Since last September, more than one million people have fled their villages and been displaced to hundreds of reception areas. HI is working to protect the most vulnerable individuals, primarily women and children. Fabrice Vandeputte, HI’s head of mission in Ethiopia, explains the causes of the crisis and how the organisation is responding to it.

A frightening increase in the number of victims of explosive weapons
(c) E. Fourt/HI

A frightening increase in the number of victims of explosive weapons

On the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness, HI is alarmed by the frightening increase in the number of civilian victims of explosive weapons : 32,008 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2016 (out of a total of 45,624 victims), according to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). The toll looks even heavier for 2017, as civilians account for 90% of the victims of explosive weapons when they are used in populated areas. Landmine Monitor has recorded a dramatic increase in casualties of mine and explosive remnants over the past three years. Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen are among the main countries affected.