Like nearly one in ten people in Iraq, Hamed had to flee his home because of fighting in his town.
“Imagine it is summer and you’re just sitting in your garden,” says Hamed. "You’re enjoying the cool night air, surrounded by your family and neighbors. Seconds later, your life has changed forever, but you don’t understand how. That’s what happened to us nearly two years ago." Sitting on a bed given to him byHandicap International, he tells his story to Hareth, his Handicap International physical therapist, and Zahra, a social worker.
“That night, in August 2014, the Islamic State entered our town. The security forces tried hard to push them back. Our house was in the middle of the fighting, and things got worse very quickly. A bomb landed on us and exploded. I passed out and when I woke up in the hospital a few days later, with my left leg amputated.”
When he regained consciousness, no one dared tell to Hamed that six members of his family had died that night. Only his wife was at hospital with him. When they got out of hospital, they rented a small apartment, but their savings quickly ran out.
Their neighbors got together to make sure the couple didn’t end up homeless. Hamed and his wife moved into a small room, made of four concrete walls. Conditions are very basic and they have no furniture, electricity, or windows. It is very hot in summer and extremely cold in winter, because the room is badly insulated. “It’s really hard, but at least we’ve got a roof over our heads, and we don’t live on the street,” says Hamed.
It was also his neighbors who told Handicap International staff about Hamed. “We regularly go from door to door, in various neighborhoods, to identify people with disabilities or injuries,” says Hareth. “When we heard about Hamed, we went to see him. We gave him equipment to make his daily routine easier and physical therapy.”
Zahra is the couple's social worker. “Hamed and his wife are obviously in a state of distress," Zahra says. "That’s why we suggested they take part in group therapy sessions. During the sessions, they meet people who are in the same situation, and they talk with them.”
As the visit draws to a close, the couple walks their guests outside. Like most displaced people, Hamed and his wife dream of going home again. But until they can, they will have to rely on the support of their neighbors and Handicap International. Hareth and Zahra will be back soon to check in on Hamed and his wife, and to continue to provide assistance and support.