“If I relive that moment, the first thing that comes to mind is what I thought just after the explosion: ‘I barely have an hour left to live.’” This is how Farid (44) tells his story as he stands proudly in front of his carpentry workshop near our Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre in Sulaymaniyah.
“That day I was in Taza Dea, in the Penjwin district. It’s an area close to an ex-military base where there are lots of mines. I was in an orchard and stepped on a mine I couldn’t see.”
Following the explosion, Farid was helped by his uncle, who was with him at the time.
“He bandaged my leg with his clothes and immediately took me to hospital, where I underwent surgery and received all the necessary medical care. I am very grateful to my uncle for the help he gave me and how he proved my life was important to him. When I arrived in Sulaymaniyah, I was given my first prosthesis and walked with crutches for 4 months. Now, luckily, I no longer need those crutches.”
As well as being one of our patients, Farid is also a carpenter. He enrolled on one of the training courses that EMERGENCY organises every year, helping ex-patients to regain personal and financial autonomy by starting business cooperatives. In this way, patients can begin to look beyond the damage that war has inflicted.
Today, Farid independently manages his carpentry workshop in the city centre, which he opened thanks to our support. He brings us to visit his shop and we can see him assembling the components of wooden furniture requested by clients, providing measurements for every object he produces, arranging delivery dates, and selecting paint colours. The job is demanding, but his prosthetic leg does not hinder even the most complex movements, such as kneeling or moving heavy objects.
“My son works alongside me. I’m trying to teach him my profession. I’ve managed to hire two people to work for me. After my injury I would never have believed I’d be back working, let alone able to live a normal life like everyone else. To think that, as soon as everything happened, the first thing I told myself was that I’d be dead within the hour.”
EMERGENCY’s Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, is funded by EU ‘European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations’ (ECHO).