Determined to stand tall

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“I’m a shepherd,” Hameed says. “Never in my life did I imagine losing a leg.” On a quiet day in April, Hameed was putting his herd into the field to graze when he came across a petrol can on the road. “I wanted to push it to the roadside, but it exploded the moment my foot touched it. I fell to the ground and saw my leg cut in two.”

Hameed didn't know that the can was an improvised explosive device (IED), one of many that contaminates areas of Iraq. “The area where I live is littered with explosive remnants of war, and I knew that, but the entire country is contaminated. There was no way I could stop working.”

With support from Handicap International’s rehabilitation team at Qayyarah Hospital in Iraq, Hameed has been working hard to recover after having his leg and thumb amputated. Today, that hard work has paid off as he’s getting ready to leave the hospital and return to his family. 

Before he leaves, Hameed has another rehabilitation session with Handicap International’s physical therapist Khaled, who’s been by his side since the beginning. “The day I met Hameed, he was in really bad shape,” Khaled explains. “I did some exercises with him right away to strengthen and stretch his muscles. I also wanted to motivate him again. I showed him how to tie his bandages too. After a few days, I noticed improvements in his outlook and physical condition.”

Khaled stresses the importance of follow-up care for Hameed. “He needs to come back for regular check-ups to make sure his stump is healing properly. It’s vital if he’s going to be fitted with a prosthesis one day. He’s young, active and sporty, so I’m not too worried about him, but I want to make sure he continues doing his physical therapy exercises. If he follows my advice, he may even be able to walk without crutches,” he adds. 

Hameed is committed to keeping up with his exercises and tells our team that he finds their advice very useful. “I’m determined to work again and to regain my former life,” he says. “And I’ll be more careful about the dangers around my village in the future.” 

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.