Going home: Zeynab Hamid Taresh has been fitted with an artificial leg
An amputee Iraqi girl now has a state of the art artificial leg thanks to the actions of British freelance journalist Lee Gordon.
After more than a year of reporting from Iraq, Gordon returned to the UK with 11-year-old Zeynab Hamid Taresh in July.
Zeynab lost her right leg in the early days of the war when her village just outside Basra was bombed.
Gordon decided to bring her to Britain for treatment accompanied by an Iraqi doctor and an Iraqi journalist.
Thanks to the intervention of Heather Mills McCartney, the model who lost part of her leg in a car accident, and is now married to Sir Paul McCartney, Zeynab was fitted with an artificial leg by the company Dorset Orthopaedic for free.
Gordon, who intends to continue reporting from Iraq, was due to take her home this week.
He said: “She will have to get the leg adjusted some time in the next six months or so.
“There aren’t the experts in Iraq at the moment who can help her, so if we can’t get a clinic set up there she will have to come back for further treatment.”
Gordon hopes that a specialist clinic for amputees can be ready near Basra by the end of the year.
A leading charity, Adopt-AMinefield, has agreed to provide funding for a clinic and it is now a question of finding a location and local personnel to run it.
“According to the Iraqi health chief for the south of Iraq, more than 1,000 people are officially registered as missing legs or arms. They are able to treat just a handful at a Red Cross clinic in Basra,” said Gordon.
“The money is there to set up the clinic, which will run to several hundred thousand pounds. The problem is finding a partner agency in Iraq who will do the actual work.”
Gordon said that Zeynab has enjoyed her stay in London but is looking forward to going back to Iraq and seeing her family.
He said: “She’s had a whale of a time and I think she has become addicted to rollercoaster rides.
“The problem is that she now got to re-adjust to life in the slums of Basra.
But she is looking forward to seeing her father.”
Gordon started his career on the Camden New Journal in London and since reporting from Iraq he has filed stories for the Mail on Sunday, the Sunday Telegraph and Channel 4 News.
By Dominic Ponsford