“Half of his body was on fire in an instant”

Last April, Baraa caugt fire and now suffers from burns over half of his body. Since then, the 9-year-old boy has been recovering from his injuries in Qayyarah hospital (south of Mosul), where he receives rehabilitation care from one of Handicap International’s physiotherapists. 

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Baraa on his bed in Qayyarah hospital.

A boy’s screams ring out from the back of the hospital ward. Baraa is lying on his bed where doctors have just changed his bandages. His face is drawn with pain and his body, swathed in bandages, leaves little doubt as to the severity of his accident. “Serious burns patients are definitely among the most difficult to treat,” explains Handicap International’s physiotherapist, Khaled. “The slightest movement causes them terrible pain. And we have to be really careful about the sort of rehabilitation exercises we do with them: a sudden movement can reopen their healing wounds.” Khaled arrives at the boy’s bedside and greets his uncle, Saleh, who looks after him like after his own son.

“I was there when the accident happened,” explains Saleh. “We were at home. Baraa’s father and I were trying to weld two metal pipes together. We’re farmers and we needed the pipes to water our field. We’d bought a bottle of diesel oil to do the job as well, but the quality wasn’t very good because we didn’t have the money to buy a better one. We’d just started welding when there was a huge explosion. Baraa was right next to us. In an instant, half of his body was on fire, from his feet to his ears. His parents were in deep shock so I took charge of things...”

Saleh first took his nephew to the home of a nurse in the village, who immediately bandaged his wounds. In the meantime, an ambulance arrived to take them to the nearest hospital. “But when we drove up to the first checkpoint, the soldiers said we could only continue on foot, for security reasons. So we turned back. We couldn’t do anything to change the situation. We finally managed to get as far as Qayyarah, a bit later the same day. They operated on Baraa the next morning.”

As Khaled carefully moves Baraa’s fingers, his uncle adds: “My nephew’s condition has really improved since he got here. His skin is slowly healing and he’s starting to eat again. Khaled’s daily visits are so important: since he began helping us, Baraa can do certain movements again. There was no way he could have done that before Khaled arrived, he seemed to be in unbearable pain. It was a horrible ordeal. For him, but for us too. We didn’t know how to help him.”

Baraa is still clearly in pain. He winces as he does his exercises with Khaled but, spurred on by his uncle, he’s no less determined for it. “If he keeps this up, he’ll be back on his feet again within two months,” says Khaled.  “But his uncle needs to make sure he does his exercises everyday, even though it might be painful. It’s tough for Baraa, I know, but it’s so important if he wants to recover from his accident.” Holding his nephew’s hand, Saleh adds: “I’ll do everything it takes to help him and to ensure he makes a quick recovery. That’s my top priority now.”

Baraa does his rehabilitation exercises with Khaled, with help from his uncle, at Qayyarah hospital.

© E. Fourt / Handicap International


Published on 05/18/2017 - 10:23.

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