Reference : V-P-AF-E-02629
Date : 09/08/2018
Country/Region : AFGHANISTAN
Caption : Herat, Physical Rehabilitation Centre. Soudeh suffered from polio at the age of one and a half. After her parents took her to ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Centre, she managed to walk again and to go to school every day. Today, she works as a physiotherapist at the Centre.
Photographer : QUILTY, Andrew
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : Soudeh was one year and a half of age when she contracted polio on her right leg: "Until I was five, I spent my time at home, sitting on the "toshak" (afghan mattress on the ground used like couches) and creeping on the floor", she says. Her father took her to the ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Center after one of his friend told him about it. “They made me an orthosis and I started to walk", she recalls. "I was so happy, that I did not sit that day. I was just walking and walking and playing with kids for the first time in my childhood. At the end of the day, my parents were telling me to go to sleep and I was begging them not to take off my prosthesis", she remembers and starts crying. "I cry because I am happy because I am walking", she manages to say adjusting her flower veil on her head. Soudeh works as a physiotherapist at the ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Center in Herat. Out of the employees of the seven Physical Rehabilitation Centres in Afghanistan, 90% are disabled themselves through positive discrimination schemes. "It was my aim to become a physiotherapist because when I was a child and came here, I saw all physiotherapist working here helping people like me. I thought I want to do the same. Mr. Alberto (Cairo) accepted and I got the scholarship from the social programme to help me pay my three years of studies at the Physiotherapy Institute in Kabul", she says. After graduating, Soudeh went back to Herat, where she began her practice. Today, she is proud to be the breadwinner of her family alongside her father.

ICRC website photo gallery, 23.01.2019 :

It's been 30 years since the ICRC launched its Physical Rehabilitation Programme in Afghanistan. Today, there are seven specialized limb-fitting centres run by the organization that cater to the needs of almost 178 000 disabled citizens. Despite the reality that they will need physical rehabilitation throughout their lives and that care is going to be hard to come by in this war-torn country, countless Afghans find courage to stand up on their feet again and dream of a better future […].
Soudeh is one of the over one million people in Afghanistan who suffer from some form of physical disability. Four decades of war and its aftermath have left the country with one of the highest rates of disability in the world. From landmines and remnants of war to wounds suffered in conflict, from barely-accessible primary health care to congenital diseases and accidents – all these reasons, and more, have marred the chances of normalcy for thousands of Afghans. Against the grey clouds of despair, many find hope in support provided through the physical rehabilitation centres run by the ICRC. The centres support the physical rehabilitation needs of nearly 178 000 people, including those who became disabled due to disease and war.
Every year, close to 10 000 new Afghans are registered with the ICRC to receive limb-fitting and physical rehabilitation help. Only 10% of them are those who've suffered war-related injuries; the remaining 90% became disabled due to a congenital condition, disease or accident. Poor access to preventive and primary health care affect one-third of this number – a huge cost paid by a nation that's already suffering due to decades of conflict. Afghanistan is one of only three countries in the world with ongoing wild poliovirus transmission, alongside Nigeria and Pakistan.
Alberto Cairo, the head of ICRC's rehabilitation programme in Afghanistan, estimates that those in need of a prosthesis or a corrective device are not less than 200 000. One of the world's most mined countries, Afghanistan is also bearing the brunt of anti-personnel landmines. As many as 750 000 people are threatened by the presence of mines and unexploded remnants of war, and over 29 500 of those who've lost a limb due to landmines or other war remnants are undergoing treatment at the ICRC centres.
Original material : digital
Resolution : 8256x5504
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour