Iraq: Rayyan and Abdul

Rayyan and Abdul were the first two patients I met at the EMERGENCY hospital. Before Mosul became a battlefield, before the bombings became daily, before fighting over the city’s streets became the norm, cousins Rayyan and Abdul used to meet in the park near their homes to play football. Like any eleven-year-old boys would on a sunny spring afternoon. One of those afternoons, though, a bomb went off in the park, seriously damaging both of their spinal cords. They were soon checked in to our new hospital and taken care of. Three months have passed since then, and the two cousins were back at the EMERGENCY hospital a few weeks ago for physiotherapy. They came in wheelchairs, accompanied by their dad and Baker, one of the friends who’d gone to play with them in the park. Baker was the youngest among them. He was only nine when both his legs were amputated, but at our Rehabilitation Centre in Sulaymaniyah he was given prosthetic ones. Now he’s walking again. When I first saw them, Rayyan and Abdul were lying in beds next to each other. They were tired and scared, but smiling; perhaps being together gave them courage. Their faces looked different in the photos I’d been sent by Attilia, the Medical Coordinator in Erbil. They showed more recognition of what they’d lost, so much strength, and infinite perseverance. And there was no sign of giving up. — Rossella, member of Emergency staff