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Saadi : “My family is all I have left”


Saadi was forced to flee his hometown in Iraq after it fell into the hands of the Islamic State group. Months later, the armed group retreated from his region and Saadi returned to check on his house. The instant he opened the front door, a bomb exploded, leaving him seriously injured. Today, Saadi and his family are trying to recover from this traumatic event with help from Handicap International.

Saadi and his children, in their makeshift home, in the region of Kirkuk. © E. Fourt / Handicap

Saadi and his children, in their makeshift home, in the region of Kirkuk. | © E. Fourt / Handicap International

The concrete shed stands alone in the middle of the fields. When Handicap International’s team knocks on the door, a girl with red hair and sparkling eyes appears with a broad grin on her face. She invites Hareth, physiotherapist, and Zahra, social worker, inside, where Saadi is lying on a mattress surrounded by four grey brick walls. Diana’s father is still tired and has difficulty moving around. He spends most of his days with his wife and children, lying on a concrete floor, turning over in his head the events that brought him here.

We fled our home town two years ago, when the Islamic State group took control of our region. A few months later, when they left, I immediately returned to see what had happened to our home. I gently pushed the front door and a bomb exploded. It was so powerful I was blown back several meters. When I came back to my senses, I was in the middle of the street and I felt a sharp pain in my leg. I called for help and people came running over to me,” recalls Saadi.

My problems had only just begun. They took me from hospital to hospital. The doctors all wanted to amputate my leg but I kept saying no. I finally agreed to a surgery that would mean staying in bed for at least a month, but it was better than losing my leg. Then as soon as I could, I came back here to be with my family. They’re all I have left,” he says as he watches his children play. Diana and her brothers and sisters take great pleasure in watching Handicap International’s team at work, and they’re genuinely pleased to see Hareth and Zahra again. 

The organisation has been providing Saadi with help for several months as part of its victim assistance programme in Iraq. Besides the physiotherapy sessions he now benefits from, Handicap International has also given him a toilet chair, a standard chair, and wound kits, which help make life easier for him. “Since my first visit, Saadi has made some progress. He never really used to get up before and he found it hard to get to the toilet. Now he can move around a little more easily and the equipment we have given him seems to be helping a lot,” explains Hareth.

But the road to recovery will be long. Because of his injuries, Saadi can’t work and his savings are running out. The family mostly depends on charities like Handicap International to survive. When we ask him what’s going through his mind, Saadi talks about the external fixations in his leg, which should have been removed months ago. “I don’t have enough money to go to hospital or to pay for this kind of surgery,” he explains. “I also think a lot about how I’m going to help my family if I can’t move for several more years. The most important thing for me is to make sure my children have a bright future.”

Hareth and Zahra leave and Diana and her brothers and sisters watch them go, impatient to see them again. Saadi is also grateful for the help the organisation has given him and he tries to be patient. He knows it’s going to take a while to get back on his feet. In the meantime, his dream is to return home and work again one day. It’s a simple dream, but one that would make all the difference for him if it came true.


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