Reference : V-P-AF-E-02631
Date : 01/11/2018
Country/Region : AFGHANISTAN
Caption : Kabul, Physical Rehabilitation Centre gymnasium. Mahmadullah was injured in the spinal cord by an aircraft bomb explosion when he was 14. His both legs are paralyzed. After his treatment in hospital, he was introduced to the ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Centre, where he received orthosis, walking frame and wheelchair, and learned gait training. He benefited from the ICRC's microcredit programme and set up a shop, before he started wheelchair basketball and was selected in the national team. Today, he trains wheelchair basketballers in the gymnasium of the orthopaedic centre.
Photographer : QUILTY, Andrew
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : "I was really sad and I thought I was the worst person in the world. I lost all my hope", remembers Mahmadullah when he talks about the time he was laid down in a bed after he sustained injuries from shelling. "It was 10 a.m., Mujahiddin were entering the capital city. I was standing outside my father’s shop when I got hit", he says. Mahmadullah was 14 years old when Afghanistan plunged into civil war in 1992. He was treated in an ICRC-supported hospital in western Kabul. Doctors told him he got injured in the spine and will never be able to walk again. "Spinal cord injury is really hard because you lose control of your whole body, muscles and limbs are paralyzed, and you do not have any control of urine. I felt so miserable", he whispers. Things changed when he started physical rehabilitation. "I was encouraged by many people, and I felt I was not disabled anymore". Mahmadullad started the social rehabilitation programme and got a microcredit twice to help him run a shop. He left it six years ago to start the basketball programme. "In the beginning, wheelchair sport is so difficult. Taking the ball from the ground, to draw it in the basket, everything is so hard. But I learned step by step and since I started I feel much better, I feel so happy". The quiet man is in the national team. In 2014, he went with the Afghan national team to Italy to participate in an international competition. "When we came back we decided to play a lot to improve our game, training every morning and evening". Mahmadullah trains twice a week. "Four times a week I train female and male teams at ICRC’s ortho centre gymnasium" he adds. His life has changed including the way his family looks at him: "They were very sad at the beginning but now they are very happy that I am almost independent. I can use the bathroom on my own, I can wash myself, I can go abroad".

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 […].
Over one million people in Afghanistan 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