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"Doctors have stolen my leg..."


 Victim of Ignorance  

" I want my leg. Doctors have stolen my leg . " These are the words of an innocent four and a half year girl, who lost her leg due to the poor health facilities and ignorance. Mah Gul, of Beland Ghar village in Behsood district of Nangarhar province is sitting on a bed under a tree with her grand mother, surrounded by a green patch of a wheat field, where her father Salim is working days and nights to feed his 8 member family.

Mah Gul didn't speak much. There was no smile on her face. A boy of her age from the neighbouring house, asked where her leg was. Her eyes turned around quickly and looked toward her artificial leg made by the ICRC Jalalabad orthopaedic centre. " One doctor took my leg and another gave me this one " she replied in low voice. There was a smile on her face when the grand mother told her that she can walk and run faster than her sister with the new leg. Her, family thanked ICRC, for helping Mah Gul to walk and play with her friends.

On 29 December 1999, Mah Gul, became sick. She was taken to a village doctor (nurse) who had only a very basic knowledge of medicine and received an injection. That night her mother felt that Mah Gul's right leg, where she had been injected, was cooler than the other. The next morning, the little girl was brought to the same doctor. He told them that they should keep her in a warm place and cover her leg with warm piece of cloth. The family followed the instruction carefully. To their surprise, when they opened the bandage, her leg's skin was found a little bit brown and black. Th e family was panicked. Mah Gul's father decided to see a specialist doctor. He had no money. He sold his only cow and the wheat crops he had.

Mah Gul was brought to Jalalabad and later on to Peshawar for treatment. There was no improvement. Some relatives told us that her pain and sickness may be caused by the Evil force (commonly believed) by villagers, said her grand mother. She was blessed by some religious persons too, but to no avail.

Mah Gul's condition was worsening day by day. On 12 February 2000, she was admitted to the General Public Health Hospital supported by the ICRC in Jalalabad. By the time, there was no option left for doctors except to cut off her leg above knee. After her wounds were cured she received a prosthesis from the ICRC orthopaedic centre. She can walk now. Unfortunately there are some unanswered questions. How many prostheses will she need in her life?. Who will provide them? How will she feels when she realises that she is no more a normal person, but rather a burden on her poor family? Will there be someone to become her life partner, when she needs one?

Mah Gul is one of the thousands of Afghans victimised by the 22 year war. Thanks to the ICRC for helping the disabled and most needy Afghans, said one elder of the community in Beland Ghar village. 

 Published by ICRC Sub-delegation Jalalabad, March 2001  

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