“A rocket fell on our house as the sun was setting”
Nada is 10 years old. Last April, she and her father were seriously injured when a bomb hit their house in Mosul, Iraq. Both amputees, they now receive assistance from Handicap International (HI) at Muharibeen hospital.
Nada and Muna at the end of the physiotherapy session at Muharibeen hospital. | © Peter Biro – ECHO/HI
HI's physiotherapist, Muna, welcomes them with a smile. The girl and the physiotherapist have formed a very special bond over the sessions. Hala, Nada's mother, sits beside her and watches her as she starts her first series of physiotherapy exercises. She can still remember the attack as if it was yesterday. “Nada, her brothers and sisters and my husband were at home that day,” she says sadly. “We lived in the west part of Mosul: the area worst affected by the fighting. A rocket fell on our house just as the sun was setting. My children and husband were seriously injured. Our neighbours rushed them to hospital. My son and one of my daughters died on the way. After they arrived at the hospital, Adel and my other children had to wait for hours before being treated. There were dozens of other casualties. By the time the doctors saw them, it was already too late: Adel and Nada both had to have amputations.”A little girl dressed in red velvet walks slowly towards the rehabilitation room in Muharibeen hospital. Although the fighting ended months ago, this medical facility in Mosul is as busy as ever. Nada is a collateral victim of the conflict – one of many civilians who are still paying the price of bombing in populated areas. She now has to move forward with just one leg. The intensity of last April’s blast also broke her jawbone, leaving her with scarring to the face and neck. Nada's father, Adel, also an amputee, edges patiently forward behind her. This is their sixth physiotherapy session.
The family stayed in hospital for weeks. There was no let-up in the bombing. “The rockets just kept on falling. We didn’t know if we’d make it. So after twenty days or so, we tried to flee.” Hala, Adel and their children managed to cross from the west to the east part of Mosul. Now, even though the fighting is over, they still can’t return home. “Our house was destroyed in the bombing. So we live here, with other members of our family - they’ve lost everything too. Twenty-two of us live in the same house. It’s very hard living here. I haven’t been able to work since my accident, and I no longer have the means to support my wife and children. Since that day in April, I feel like I've been living in some sort of prison - a kind of whirlwind where everything seems to be going wrong. I try to stay as positive as I can, but if I said it was easy I’d be lying," says Adel, who is also sitting in on Nada’s session.
The girl’s parents explain how HI’s assistance has helped them feel slightly more hopeful about the future. “One day, I saw a man, an amputee, walking in the street. He had prosthesis and I thought: that's what my husband and Nada need,” says Hala, recalling the first time she heard about the organisation. “He recommended I visit you here and this summer Adel and Nada started the sessions with your team.” The father and daughter have made a lot of progress since their first session and soon they’re going be fitted with their own prostheses.
“We both do our exercises, in the hospital and at home,” says Adel. “Nada helps keep me motivated. Even when she's tired, she comes to the rehabilitation sessions and doesn't complain. She's improved a lot since we met you. The sessions are helping us move on.” Nada has finished her exercises and it’s Adel's turn. The little girl sits next to her mother and watches her father affectionately. It still hurts for her to smile and her scars pull the skin on her face, but Nada can’t seem to help herself.