22-year-old Sharifa is one of the thousands of Afghan mothers struggling to overcome the hurdles that are posed by a healthcare system weakened by decades of war, poor facilities, and social and cultural barriers that are difficult to break.
AFGHANISTAN: His name is Bahar – ‘Spring’ – a word which recalls images of life and birth. It’s a suitable name, given the story of this boy, who lived through the horrors of war before even coming into the world.
His mother, Engila, was left wounded by a rocket explosion while pregnant. She was at home when she heard the sound of it approaching, and instinctively pushed her husband out of the way. He was unharmed, but Engila was injured.
A day after her admission to our hospital in Kabul, we transferred Engila to our Maternity Centre in Panjshir, where she could be treated more effectively. Little Bahar was born there, with a ruffled, and very black, head of hair.
He had to spend the first 20 days of life in neonatal intensive care for respiratory problems, but as soon as his condition allowed, we took him to Engila, still recovering in the surgical ward.
It was there, finally, that Bahar could feel the warmth of his mother’s body. Is that why he seems to be smiling?