The rocky mountains around Sulaymaniyah are capped with snow.
Rain beats on the door of every house and on the roof of EMERGENCY’s Rehabilitation Centre. Samad leaves his tailor’s workshop and comes over to us, taking care on his prostheses. He lost his legs, along with his left eye, when he was a child.
“I remember that day, we’d just taken the sheep to the pasture. After the device exploded, I found myself on a hillside, a few hundred yards from my village. I was with two friends. One was killed straight away, the other left blind. The mine was hidden on the ground. We hadn’t seen it.
After helping me, my parents brought me here. And in a way, I’ve never really left.”
As he tells us his story, the smell of the local chai fills the corridors and lifts everyone’s spirits.
“Scars running down our backs, our arms, our legs. Our bodies are maps of pain.” Samad tells us.
“With EMERGENCY, I slowly started walking and working again, and looking to the future with a new frame of mind. I learnt to sew in this workshop. I came back to life in the rooms here. We all came back to life,” he says, pointing to his colleagues and former patients. “The beauty of this place is knowing that everything you see, from the curtains to the shoes, we’ve made with our own hands.” It’s a continuous cycle of patience and self-control. Like a needle and thread working their way in and out of a piece of cloth, Samad goes from his rehabilitation exercises with our physiotherapists, to hammering away at a piece of wood, to taking those cautious steps.
“Alhamdulillah,” Samad’s colleagues say in unison.
“Thank God” indeed, that they are here and alive.