Creating a War-Free Space for Children in Lashkar-Gah

EMERGENCY-LASHKARGAH-08

Lashkar-Gah Surgical Center
Afghanistan

“This country is full of children and unfortunately there are many of them in our hospitals too. They are the innocent victims of a war that has nothing to do with them, but they are forced to live and grow with it. It is hard to believe what you see: a child’s coloring book with a photo of men brandishing guns on the cover and a drawing of a man shooting a gun with a child in his arms on the inside. Here the abnormal has become ‘normal.’

Children grow up coloring in men with guns while their families are composed of brothers and sisters who have lost hands or feet, or have even died, and they have no fathers or uncles because they too were killed by bullets or shells or were blown up by a land mine. This isn’t what childhood or adolescence should be like for these children.
EMERGENCY-LASHKARGAH-02 We always try to make their hospital stay less dramatic by playing around with them every day. Thanks to Francesco, the physiotherapist, and Dimitra, the Medical Coordinator, and with the occasional help from the entire international staff, we also try to make the environment more appropriate for their stay, which is sometimes very long.

EMERGENCY-LASHKARGAH-03As such, there are no more white walls in their ward! They need to see images that are age-appropriate, like colorful pictures of funny animals that watch over them and can be seen over their beds. Everything we do is for them, in the hope that we leave a part of ourselves in their hearts just as they do in ours.

Humanity is our ‘weapon.’ Enough of the violence, at least while they are with us.”

– Elena
Anesthesiologist
Lashkar-Gah, Afghanistan

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