With his heartwarming display of joy after receiving an artificial leg, a young victim of the war in Afghanistan shed light on the longstanding agony caused by the bloody conflict in a video that went viral earlier this week.
Caught between fierce crossfire, horrific air raids and a deadly web of thousands of landmines crisscrossing the mountainous country, Afghan civilians have bore the brunt of the raging decades-long war.
Five-year-old Ahmad Syed Rahman was a toddler when multiple stray bullets from a gunfight between insurgents and security forces in his native Logar province hit him while in the lap of his elder sister, his mother Rayesa Rehman told Anadolu Agency.
Earlier this week, doctors at the International Committee of the Red Cross in the capital Kabul provided Ahmad with his latest prosthetic leg, as he needs larger sizes as he grows, with the young boy whirling about in joy through the hospital ward in joy with a bright smile.
“That evening, we had nothing to eat, so I sent Ahmad’s sister to ask the neighbors for something to eat, she took him with her, but all of a sudden fighting broke out and they got caught in the middle of it,” Rayesa sighed, recalling the night of the tragedy.
When the fighting came to halt, she rushed her blood-soaked children to the nearby government hospital.
“The public hospital in our district could only provide very basic treatment and said they could not treat the child there,” she said, adding that multiple bullets had pierced Ahmad’s leg.
Evidently happy, but too shy to speak, Ahmad giggled as he said how much he liked his new prosthetic leg: “It is much better, I can run, I can dance.”
– World shares Afghan boy’s grief and joy
His joy was first captured by Mulkara Rahimi, a physiotherapist at the ICRC.
“Unfortunately, we get many child war victims like Ahmad, but I could not stop myself from capturing his joy on my mobile phone and share it with the world,” she said.
Within hours of ICRC Afghanistan spokesperson Roya Musawi sharing the video on twitter, Ahmad was melting hearts all over the world with comments of affection raining down.
– Land mine-riddled Afghanistan
Earlier this year, the ICRC marked the 30-year anniversary of the Physical Rehabilitation Program in Afghanistan which has helped thousands of disabled people with the help of acclaimed and dedicated Italian physical therapist, Alberto Cairo.
Joan Pedro, ICRC Afghanistan chief, said more than 180,000 people with disabilities and other issues have been served since the program’s start, with up to 12,000 people treated on yearly basis.
A number of people with disabilities receiving treatment at the ICRC facility told Anadolu Agency on the occasion they got a new life thanks to the Physical Rehabilitation Program.
Official statistics indicate that nearly 5% of Afghanistan’s population are disabled, with close to 10,000 Afghans registered every year to receive limb-fitting and physical rehabilitation.
Poor access to preventive and primary health care affect one-third of these — a huge cost paid by a nation already suffering from decades of conflict, with a major contributing factor to this being the presence of anti-personnel landmines thought the country.
As many as 750,000 people are threatened by the presence of mines and unexploded ordnances, and over 29,500 of those who have lost limbs due to such weapons are undergoing treatment at ICRC centers.
“Fighting a war is a very bad thing, due to this war I lost a leg and could not play like other children with my own legs, I want all [fighting sides] to stop the war,” Ahmad said.