Wheelchairs for Disabled Children

December 16, 2015 • Iraq
Wheelchairs for Disabled Children

After an attack by Saddam Hussein left me disabled, I returned home to help others suffering from disabilities

Sarko works with Samaritan’s Purse to help disabled children and adults in need in Northern Iraq.

People with physical disabilities sometimes have to overcome obstacles, and for those living in the developing world, these obstacles can seem insurmountable. I run a program in Northern Iraq that aims to make these obstacles easier so that people with disabilities can reach their full potential.

In March 1988, Saddam Hussein’s forces launched a chemical attack on the small town of Halabja in Northern Iraq. As many as 5,000 people were killed, while upwards of 10,000 were injured—most of them civilian men, women, and children. Today there is a higher rate of children born with physical disabilities in this area. The disabilities are attributed to the lingering effects of the chemicals used in the attack.

Wheelchairs for Disabled Children

Sarko takes off his prosthetics as he works on the chairs to get better access to them.

I was 6 years old in 1988. One day, as I was on my way home from school, a bomb fell near my bus. I awoke three months later in a hospital in Iran. My legs were missing. I soon discovered that none of my classmates had survived the attack and that my parents had died in an attack later the same day that I was injured.

For years, I received treatments in the hospital and was eventually fitted for prosthetics. In 2000, I moved to Jordan, where I continued to receive care from Christians. Then I started a ministry for displaced Kurdish families.

In 2008, I made the decision to return to Halabja to help serve the people of my community who are living with disabilities. Along with fitting specialized wheelchairs to children and adults who would otherwise have limited mobility, Samaritan’s Purse offers comfort and encouragement in Jesus’ Name. I work with parents as I teach them how to interact with their special needs children.

When I began making wheelchairs, the task was hard for me. I tried to focus on each step of putting the chairs together, and sometimes I ended up removing my prosthetic legs as I worked on the project. When I finished the first chairs, I asked the children’s families to pick them up. Soon, more than 10 children were visiting me daily. Word had spread that the chairs were changing lives.

Wheelchairs for Disabled Children

Daroon is able to use her feet in the wheelchair Sarko made for her.

When I was fitting a chair for a child named Daroon, she said, “I would like to move on my feet at least once in my life.” I began thinking about how I could help her, and I prayed to God. When I finally put Daroon in her chair, which she was able to move with her feet, she became happy, and I lost control. I began crying.

There are many children and adults like Daroon. In October, I made 100 chairs. Afterward, I suggested a day that everyone could come together in a public park. Everyone came, and we had a party. The children and adults expressed hope that I would be able to continue helping them since the conditions in Iraq are bad nowadays. These chairs give disabled people a measure of freedom that they wouldn’t otherwise have. I consider it a joy to receive support from Samaritan’s Purse to serve these precious people.