Maidan Shahr is a town around 50km from Kabul, on the main road from the capital to Kandahar.
“I had heard about your Maternity Centre from a neighbour who’d become a mother at your hospital,” she tells us as she cuddles her little boy in her arms.
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.
When her waters broke, eight months into her pregnancy, she and her husband travelled four hours to get to the Centre. “I knew I’d be able to give birth safely here.”
“Sharifa was very worried,” our nurse Claudia tells us. “When she got here, she told us that she had already lost a son, who was also born prematurely, when she was in hospital in Kabul. At the Anabah Maternity Centre, we helped her give birth and gave her baby all the treatment he needed to growth healthily and return home with his parents.”
“I was worried,” Sharifa says, “but I’ve always felt safe here. Other women like me have cared for me and helped me every step of the way. You have always been by my side and made me happy. When we get back to our village, I’ll tell other women about this hospital and encourage them to come here, to get your help.”