“He wants to know if his legs will grow back”

  • Emergency
  • Rehabilitation
  • Iraq

On 21st March 2017, 9-year-old Baker was injured in an air attack in the west of Mosul. After having both of his legs amputated, he is now recovering in a hospital on the outskirts of the city. Handicap International is providing him with physiotherapy care and psychosocial support.


Baker lying in his hospital bed, Iraq
Baker lying in his hospital bed, Iraq

Baker is lying in a hospital bed with a lost look in his eyes. He turns to his father and mutters softly: “It hurts Dad, it really hurts.”

Just a few days ago, he was playing in the street with his friends in Mosul, when they were hit by a bomb. Baker was rushed to hospital where doctors amputated both of his legs.

Since then, he has been in a state of shock and suffers a lot. The painkillers don’t stop him thinking about what happened.

“He still hasn’t accepted the situation,” says Karam, one of Handicap International’s psychosocial workers, who visits him every day. “When I see him, he asks me if his legs are going to grow back. He also says he’s been having a lot of nightmares since his accident.”


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Fatima, a Handicap International physiotherapist, enters the boy’s hospital room and starts to do a series of rehabilitation exercises with him.

“I met Baker just after he reached the hospital,” she explains. “Since then, I’ve visited him every day. I use our sessions to help him get used to his situation. It’s going to take him time to accept it, but I’m hopeful. Baker is still a child and children usually find it easier to adapt.”

Our team will talk to a local partner organisation about Baker, to arrange for him to be fitted with prosthetic legs in the near future.

© E. Fourt/Handicap International

Fatima blows up a balloon to make the session a bit more fun, and continues the rehabilitation exercises. The physiotherapist wants Baker to understand that he can still move around, laugh and play, despite his new condition.

“I love playing and studying,” he says. Baker hasn’t been to school for the past two years, since the Islamic State group captured the city. “When I grow up I want to be an architect,” he says. “I want to rebuild all of the houses that have been destroyed and to help people,” he adds shyly.

At the end of the session, Baker shares his hopes with Handicap International’s team. He dreams of being able to walk and stand up again one day. He wants to go back home to see his friends. But for the moment, his greatest wish is to be in less pain.

Baker’s father tells his son that he’s just going to buy some food and will be back shortly. He leaves the room and sits on a bench in the garden. He doesn’t want his son to see him crying.

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Published 18/05/17

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