I met Ahlam for the first time in June, in a refugee camp near Mosul.
She was with her parents and her little brother. When they came in the room my stomach went into a knot. Ahlam was in her father’s arms, both her legs amputated. She seemed so fragile and helpless, she looked like she might fall apart at any moment. She was badly dressed, dirty and underweight, with infected wounds. We decided straight away to transfer her to the EMERGENCY hospital in Erbil, where our team could start treating her leg wounds. But the prognosis was negative, as were our states of mind.
Last week I was at the Rehabilitation Centre in Sulaymaniyah. As I walked down the corridor, a little girl came up to me and flashed me a smile with her big, white teeth. Hawar, the project coordinator, came over straight away. ‘Giacomo, why don’t you say hello?’
Suddenly, I realised those big eyes were Ahlam’s. I rarely get emotional, but this time I cried seeing her in our Centre, beautiful, well fed, well dressed and, above all, happy. I remembered the effort, the work, the struggle, the sleepless nights, the stomach aches and the bags under our eyes. Ahlam’s smile was like a bucketful of fresh water. It was full of memories and emotions.
At times, when the urgency and frenzy of the work seizes you, it’s easy to forget the impact of what we do on people’s lives. I’m thankful to Ahlam for reminding me how much our work helps, and what a big difference it makes to all our patients.
I’m thankful to Ahlam for reminding me how everyone together can make a difference.
— Giacomo, Programme Coordinator in Iraq