One afternoon, Rayyan and his cousin decided to clean up the small park near their home in Al Muthanna, East Mosul, so that they could start playing football again.
They took some rakes and bags to collect debris and they went to the park, about a hundred metres from home. “It seemed like a quiet situation at this point”, says Tareq, Rayyan’s dad, who came to our hospital carrying his 12-year-old son.
“I was on the roof, I was drinking tea with my youngest son, Rafat. I heard a roar, turned around and saw a mortar fall exactly in the middle of the park where Rayyan was playing. I rushed over there and saw him. One of my neighbours was putting him in his car to take him to hospital.”
Tareq smiles and jokes while standing next to his hospitalised son’s bed. Sometimes, when Rayyan falls asleep, he goes into the garden, and while smoking he tells me that the child had already dreamed of being hit by an explosion before the incident. “Do even the younger ones need to get used to living in fear? Or maybe they already do?”
He personally chose the name Rayyan: it means ‘one who is not thirsty’, and it’s the gate of heaven for those who often fasted in life.
Rayyan has suffered an injury to the spine and is now paralysed from the waist down. But Tareq tells me he feels lucky, his baby is still alive, as are his wife and his four other children, who are waiting for them in Mosul.
– Rossella, EMERGENCY staff, from the Emergency Hospital in Erbil, Iraq