The Overcomers: Healing the scars of war

Aug 07, 2020
Raja* is a 10-year-old survivor of war. During the battle for Mosul, Iraq between ISIL and coalition forces, she was severely injured by a bomb. She lost her hand and her legs were badly damaged. Raja shares her story in her own words.

It was a Friday; my father went to the mosque to pray and I stayed home because I wasn’t feeling well. ISIL was shooting at the airplanes and the planes were bombing them.

As the bombs were dropping, I was afraid that the house would fall on us. I started running. I passed three or four houses when a bomb landed near me.

I remember that I was on the ground. I looked at my hand and it was bleeding. I also looked at my stomach. It was also bleeding. I couldn’t move. Some neighbour’s saw me lying there and brought me inside. I was there until my mother came and she held me. Then they took me to the hospital. 

I was in the hospital for two months. I lost my hand and had two surgeries on my legs, first to bring the bones together and then another operation to make one leg longer. 

Now I don’t need any other surgery, but I still need to go to the doctor to see her and do some trainings because one of my legs is still a bit longer than the other one. I’ve been given special shoes to help me walk.  

After getting hurt I didn’t want to leave home, so I stayed inside, sometimes I would sit in the doorway and feel the warmth of the sun on my face. 

Watch Raja share her story in this video:

I’m more comfortable to go outside now and its helped to be able to talk about my feelings with someone.

I like this entertainment place. Most of the activities I like, but I really love painting and drawing, and singing. My favourite song to sing is “I fly, I will fly”. 

When I am drawing mountains, I want to be in mountains, when I am drawing trees I want to be under the trees. I am drawing my feelings. 

If someone wants to know my story, I will tell them about my story. I feel better after talking about it. 

I’m glad to be alive. After what happened to me, I want to be a doctor, like my bone doctor. When I saw her and how she supported me, I want to be like her and provide support for others.

The only thing I want is for all the girl’s dreams to come true, I tell them not to stop dreaming and they have to fight to get their dreams to come true. Even if the voice is not good you have to sing with all your heart.

As part of Raja’s recovery, a World Vision case worker introduced her to a Child Friendly Space. A new wheelchair and specially fitted shoes have helped her mobility. She continues to heal from her visible and invisible injuries through social connections with other children who have been affected by the war and through targeted psychosocial support from trained staff. 

World Vision research warns that 85 million additional vulnerable children, including refugees, are in immediate danger from physical, sexual and emotional violence within the next three months because of increased instability caused by COVID-19. These children face dangerous threats, but they have incredible strength and resiliency to overcome these dark challenges to survive, recover and build a new future. Act now to support children like Raja move from victim to survivor --- and from survivor to overcomer.

*name changed to protect her identity. 

More stories for you

Five tough places to be a girl right now Poverty, conflict, and disaster push women and girls to another level of danger. Read about some of the toughest places to be born a girl.
More than Survival: Music therapy restores an orphan’s hope in the DRC Muhindo, 11, joined a music therapy pilot project that supports children and women who have experienced physical and sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Read his story now.
Child soldiers in Africa: Mukele’s story When the Rwandan genocide ended on July 15, 1994, it marked the beginning of another conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that continues to this day. Read Mukele’s story of overcoming a childhood shaped by conflict.