My name is Chia Karim and I have been the teacher of the tailoring course at the Rehabilitation Centre since its opening in 1998. I am disabled and I can understand those who face the same difficulties. I teach them to become good tailors. After the course, we help them opening shops in the area. This way, they can support their families and return to a normal life.
Chia Karim, Teacher at EMERGENCY’s Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre in Sulaimaniya, Iraq
My name is Najeeb Ubeed, I was born in 1972 and I live in Zarayan. I was injured during the Iranian bombings in May 1988. After this accident I had many problems and I felt discouraged many times, with myself and others, including my family. In 2003 I was able to participate in a vocational training for apprentice tailors and now I have my own shop.
Najeeb Ubeed, former patient at EMERGENCY’s Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre in Sulaimaniya, Iraq
My name is Mohammed and I live in Zarayan. In 1992 I was injured in a landmine explosion and I lost a leg. I have a family and seven children. Initially it was very difficult for me to support my family. After a few years we heard that an organisation called EMERGENCY was providing care to people with disabilities and they were offering the opportunity to learn a new job. I took the course to become a blacksmith and after completing it I opened my own shop. I am now able to support my family with my business and I am very happy because I don’t feel disabled anymore. I will always be thankful to EMERGENCY. With their support I was born again.
Mohammed, former patient at EMERGENCY’s Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre in Sulaimaniya, Iraq
Inclusion and empowerment are this year’s focus for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. EMERGENCY USA welcomes this occasion as an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of fostering agency and empowerment for people with disabilities.
By working in conflict and post-conflict areas we are very aware of the permanent damage that war inflicts up the civilian population, damage which persists for decades after wars are declared over. Landmines, lack of medical treatment and rehabilitation programmes combined with the inability of States to provide persons with disabilities with the appropriate support destroy the lives of millions of people.
This is why the recruitment policy of EMERGENCY’s hospitals favours persons with disabilities who, by working with us, are able to return to a normal life and to support themselves and their families. Indeed, our work is based on the principles of quality, equality and social responsibility and on the belief that every human being is born equal and should have access to the same opportunities as others.
This is also why in Iraq, a country still infested by millions of landmines, EMERGENCY decided to open a Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre. The Centre, based in Sulaimaniya, opened in 1998 and specialises in physiotherapy and in the production of prosthesis, orthotics, and orthopaedic devices for disabled and amputee patients. The Centre is also the only free, specialised facility in the area and it has become a referral centre for the whole of Iraq.
In order to assist the homecoming of its patients the staff at the Centre eliminates architectural barriers in their homes. This ensures that patients can be independent and move freely within their own living space.
Social reintegration is also at the heart of this project as the trauma of suffering disabling injuries is not only physical but affects a person’s life in many profound ways. Depression, lack of self-esteem, and extreme poverty are all consequences of life-changing injuries. To help overcome this, the Centre offers vocational training courses in the fields of carpentry, woodwork, tailoring, leatherwork, and shoemaking. Once patients complete the vocational training courses, EMERGENCY provides them with economic and managerial support until complete autonomy is achieved.
EMERGENCY’s social reintegration programme aims to restore its patients’ dignity and to overcome the barriers created by disability by enabling them to regain a livelihood for themselves and their families.
By December 2014, 510 people had completed vocational courses organised at the Centre and 320 cooperatives had been set up with EMERGENCY’s support.