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Iraq: Testimonies from our trauma hospital south of Mosul

01 May 2017

Bilal*: “Blood or no blood, I have seen it all”

I am 28 years old but the situation we’re facing makes me feel like I am 100 years old. I started working in the trauma centre when it opened as a cleaner for the emergency room. I clean before the injured come in, and especially when they are taken away. You see hard situations but I am used to this because I worked as a cleaner in other hospitals before. So blood or no blood, I have seen it all.

I have lived in this area my whole life and before ISIS, it was a good and decent life. When ISIS came, and the siege was placed, we had no work. We had no money to buy clothes and had to rely on our savings and whatever we had at home. Till now I wouldn’t say I’ve been through many difficulties in my work but yes, we are still bothered by the fact that our community, our family are hurt. Truthfully, the country isn’t secure and the future seems unstable. If these organizations leave, and our work is over, we don’t have much left. There is barely anything left.

*Name has been changed

Ridwan: “This trauma centre is an archive of pain”

My name is Ridwan Jalal Mohammed and I am almost 50 years old. I am a doctor and a surgeon in this trauma centre. Before here, I was a surgeon in Mosul living in the neighborhood of Al-Sadiq. Life over there continues; not with ease, but it does go on. Working with Médecins Sans Frontières at the trauma centre seems easier than what I did because of the types of treatment I can offer to the patient. The quality of care here is really good. Most of the cases I’ve dealt with relate to mortars. Here our patients widely differ in age; mothers, fathers, the elderly and children. They are all different.

The hardest thing to witness is family members losing loved ones. Yesterday, for example, we had a father who lost his daughter. It was very hard to see this. It is hard for a father to lose his child. This trauma centre is an archive of pain. A doctor sees a lot of things in his life, but he must continue to do his work because mercy is powerful. The best thing is to have patient fully treated; to receive the patient, to treat him, and then to see him and his family happy to be alive. There is no doubt I have hope for the future. I always hope that life will be better. A human being must do his part for those around him. 

Ayman: “All I’ve seen was slaughter and death”

My wife’s name is Widad and we’ve been married for 7 years. We have only one child who is six months old, Hadeel. We lived in the IS controlled district of Yarmouk in Mosul where life was indescribable. There was hunger, fear and terror. ISIS would kidnap people and whatever form of torture you can think of, they did. There were airstrikes on our area and there was shelling. It was death all around. If we didn’t leave you would have died at home.

We decided to leave late one night with a bunch of people. They [ISIS] saw us – they were stationed on one of the roof tops -- and then I think they triggered an improvised explosive device. My wife lost her leg. We were brought to a medical point where they stopped my wife from bleeding to death. Then they referred us to the Médecins Sans Frontières Trauma centre. They welcomed us and it was a good reception. All I’ve seen was slaughter and death. But in the trauma centre, there is a sense of safety. They take care of the sick and injured. They took care of my wife. They treated her but she has no leg. She has no leg and I think this will hurt us in the future. This shouldn’t have happened. I just hope tomorrow my wife can be better, that she can get up, she can walk, play with her daughter. I will be by her side and help her.  

Saleh: “When they cry, we cry”

My name is Saleh Mahmoud Mohammed and I am 31 years old. I am a watchman for this trauma centre and started working when it first opened. Before working here I didn’t have any work. The situation in my area in Mosul was very challenging; you had to beg for any work. After liberation, which was a happy moment, it was still hard because work was scarce. When Médecins Sans Frontières came, they immediately provided jobs for the people who were unemployed and it has transformed the area and the lives of many families.

I am the first person who sees the cases from Mosul when they arrive and I’ve seen miserable cases of all types, and in turn the doctors have tackled these cases with many treatments. When you see a child, or a woman, or a man who is hurt, it causes you pain. But when you see the doctors here doing all they can, you do so too. When they cry, we cry. The country is going through a difficult time. It is miserable. I have huge hopes for Iraq. The most important thing is that Iraq remains united, that after this war, we return as one people.