Days in these mine-infested fields begin like any other, whether they will irreversibly alter someone’s life or not.
At EMERGENCY’s Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre in Sulaymaniyah, men, women, and children – victims of war – represent the majority of patients we admit and treat. But they’re not the only ones: we also take care of patients who have undergone amputations for other reasons, such as road accidents.
“I can’t remember anything from that day because I was only 4. All I know is that I was involved in a car collision in Tasluja – not far from here – and that from then on, my entire right leg – up to the hip – was gone.”
We meet Gulstan (20) at the dressmaking workshop hosted by our Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre. This is where she learnt her trade and became a professional dressmaker. “After the accident, I spent a year in bed. I couldn’t stand the first prosthesis I wore, I was ashamed that I couldn’t go out and play with the other children.”
It took 12 years for Gulstan to turn her life around. In 2014, she began regular physiotherapy at the centre: recovering some of her strength and confidence thanks to tailored rehabilitation exercises. Now, in the house where she lives with her husband in New Hallabja, she runs a dressmaking workshop. She spends every day creating personalised, made-to-order clothes for both adults and children.
“Now I feel more confident, and I love my job. I want to become even more specialised and learn new things from this profession.”
Even though her business is established and successful, Gulstan still returns to the centre periodically to have her prosthesis repaired when necessary, or simply to meet up with her colleagues and stay up-to-date with her profession.
Like many other twenty-somethings, Gulstan loves sharing photos of her creations on social media. On her Facebook profile, Gulstan posts images of the clothes she makes, which are colourful, well-cut, and refined. She smiles timidly whilst showing us her homepage. She also tells us that some of the work she does is commissioned by people who follow her on social media.
Hanging on the wall of her home, we find the framed certificate she received at the end of the training course organised by the rehabilitation centre – reflecting her passion for a new vocation. We have nothing left to do but congratulate her, and wish her future success and happiness.
The EMERGENCY Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, is funded by EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid – ECHO.