“The city was under constant attack and I wanted to take my children to safety,” explains Husein. “We walked out in the middle of the night so that no one would see us. I held my mother’s hand, because she has problems walking, while carrying Zeidan on my back. We had a really rough time getting here.”
Now living at Hasansham camp in Iraqi Kurdistan, where tens of thousands of displaced people have taken refuge since the start of the Mosul offensive, Husein tells our team about his son, Zeidan.
“He was born prematurely,” he says. “Zeidan was in an incubator for the first ten days of his life. We were worried and asked doctors what was wrong with him. One of them told us that part of his brain had been lacking oxygen, and that he was suffering from a mild form of cerebral palsy.”
Until meeting Handicap International, five-year-old Zeidan never had rehabilitation care. Today, Zeidan meets with our team: Mohamad, a physical therapist and Diana, a social worker.
Husein watches as Mohamad helps Zeidan with his exercises. “I’d do anything for him,” he says. "I can’t help but worry about his future. I love him so much.” Zeidan’s father explains that he wants his son to go to school, but that the camp isn’t adapted to his needs. “I really want him to learn."
Zeidan watches his little brother Alawi playing alongside him. “You must go to school,” the little boy says softly, with a broad grin on his face. “If I manage to get a backpack, I’ll even go with you myself. It’s really important.” Zeidan is eager to learn and wants to reassure his father that he’ll be ok. He has a positive outlook on life and is full of hope.
“Handicap International is going to give them mobility devices to make Zeidan’s life easier,” Mohamad explains. “I also want to teach his parents how to do rehabilitation exercises with him, so they’ll know how to help their son when they return home.”
Zeidan gives the physical therapist a high five and laughs. He’s already looking forward to their next visit.
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.