Bringing back the smile: Zuhria's story

Improving lives of mine victimes and persons with disabilities

By Ibrahim Baba-ali, Programme Specialist, Mine Action, UNDP Iraq


Zuhria Ahmed Yonis was only 15 years old when she lost one of her legs.


"It was spring time. I went with my mother and friends to harvest, when suddenly a mine exploded under my feet,”  Zuhria said.


Zuhria is married and is the mother of five children. Three of Zuhria’s children go to school, while the others stay at home to support their elderly father.  Zuhria is the head and sole breadwinner of her family. 


The Diana Prosthetic Limbs Centre (DPLC) in the Soran District in Erbil was able to help Zuhria with prostheses and enrolling her in a six-month vocational training programme in tailoring, funded by the Government of Japan through UNDP Iraq. 


During her training, Zuhria could not leave her family and was obliged to travel two hours every day to the centre to attend the course.


"My husband could not work and we had hardly any source of income. I needed a profession and becoming a tailor was a great opportunity to have a better life for my children and I.”


 After completing her training in March 2010, DPLC helped Zuhria to establish a tailoring shop at home. Through this small business Zuhria is now able to support her family.


Zuhria believes the training had a considerable impact on her life. “Through this support, my life has changed and our worst problems are now solved.  We are smiling again," she said.


This project was funded by the Government of Japan, with UNDP providing technical support to the three national NGOs.


The assistance provided 21,097 physiotherapy services to persons with disabilities, gave 2,719 prosthetic limbs and 8,780 orthoses and 9,120 mobility aids, and maintained 8,819 orthopedic limbs.  421 persons with disabilities benefited from income generation projects and 90 persons received vocational training in carpentry, blacksmithing, computing and tailoring.  In addition, from 2009 to March 2012; 52 home adaptations were completed, improving victim’s mobility within their homes.


To ensure sustainability of the NGOs’ operations, UNDP conducts capacity building activities to improve management and resource mobilisation in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). 


For more information please contact Ibrahim Baba-ali,

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