Afghanistan: A loan to revive hope and dignity

When Sebghatullah had left home and family in a remote village of Badakhshan Province's Yaftal district, where even roads do not reach, to go to Kunduz Province, he had carried a dream in his heart. He wanted to study and pursue better prospects in life.

Before the dream could take any shape, an accident injured his body and crushed his spirit. Sebghatullah was paralysed from the waist down and thought he would die.

The ICRC took a room on rent for Sebghatullah to stay during his vocational training. Mohammad Masoud Samimi/ICRC

"I returned home broken. My efforts had failed, and I had become entirely dependent on people. Even my family did not want me. I hated myself, I hated them, and I wanted to die," says the 26-year-old. Sebghatullah stayed in his village for six months, growing miserable in his heart and ridden with bedsores.

In May 2013, he decided to take a chance and go to the physical rehabilitation centre run by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Faizabad. "I did not expect anything to change but I wanted to take a chance anyway. Although it was very difficult to reach Faizabad from my village, I managed it somehow. My family made it clear that they will not support me, so I did not get in touch with them for six months," he says.

At the rehabilitation centre, Sebghatullah began to slowly heal emotionally and physically and learned to use the wheelchair. He was then enrolled in a vocational training programme to learn how to repair mobile phones and a new dream began to sprout.

"It was as if it had rained on me after years of drought and I was growing again. During my seven-month training, the ICRC paid for all my expenses such as food, stay and travel. After I graduated, the organization also gave me two loans, one in 2019 and another in February 2020, to set up my own business in Badakhshan," he says.

The business brought him financial independence, earned him respect in the community, changed his attitude to life and also restored the relationship with his family. "The ICRC came as an angel that saved my dream," says Sebghatullah.

Like him, 29 people with disabilities received microcredit loans from the Faizabad physical rehabilitation centre in the first two months of 2020 before COVID-19 swept the globe. The ICRC's Physical Rehabilitation Programme helps people with disabilities to overcome their challenges and play a full part in society through vocational training, small businesses and sports.