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.
Hekmat is one of EMERGENCY’s amazing Afghan nurses. Here he is sitting with Fazel, the Supervisor of the guards at the Surgical Centre for War Victims in Kabul. Fazel and Hekmat are colleagues. But they are also father and son.
“I decided to dedicate my life to war victims because my father is one too. He lost a leg during the conflict, but that didn’t stop him: every day he still works hard to do his job. EMERGENCY has given us an opportunity: this is not just a job, it’s a vital service for the whole community. I do this for my father and for all Afghan people.
After I graduated, EMERGENCY asked me if I was available and I accepted immediately. New patients arrive every day and I know that I have to give my best for each of them. A few days ago, for example, a man injured by a bomb arrived. We had to amputate both his legs, a similar story to my father’s. We cared for him and he survived, he will be OK. I can only be proud of what we were able to do for him. I see many other patients who come back for check-ups and constantly improve: this makes me feel so good, because I can see them happy, because – as they tell often tell us we ‘saved their life’”.
Last winter, Hekmat was tasked with leading a group of young Afghan patients to another EMERGENCY hospital, the Salam Centre in Sudan, for heart surgery. “When I learned of the chance to go to Sudan, I stepped forward. Some of the Afghan patients going to the cardiac hospital there needed support, especially the young ones, so I volunteered. I had never left my country and wanted to learn more about my work. We spent several months together there. They still call me today to find out how I am and to tell me about their life after the heart surgery they underwent. Our relationship has changed over time and today I can say that they are no longer just ‘patients’, but friends.
Now I’m back here in Kabul, sitting next to my father, I want to continue my studies and someday become a good war surgeon. I am only 21 years old but he encourages me and stimulates me to do better and better. For him I will try to do more and more. For my father, and for our Afghanistan.”