Update from Alberto, Our Anaesthetist in Afghanistan

“Seeing the roses blooming in winter is an amazing sight; here in Lashkar-gah, our hospital for war victims has a beautiful inner garden that’s always well looked after by our gardeners. And the part of the garden that lies behind the hospital has a little play area for children.

There are slides, swings and roundabouts – all kept in good condition and freshly painted red and white. They look so inviting… And here at the hospital, there’s certainly no lack of children: a third of our patients are women and children. They’re the so-called “collateral damage” of this endless war. They’re here at our hospital because they’ve suffered war wounds, caused by bullets, shrapnel or landmines.

And do you want to know what a landmine does to a child? I don’t want to describe the kinematics of these injuries, or the harm produced by bullets blasting into such tender skin, or the terrible mutilations caused by these explosive devices. I just want to say this: for the children I see in the hospital, those landmines, bullets and pieces of shrapnel have taken away the legs for climbing the steps of the slide; they’ve amputated the arms for holding onto the swing; they’ve blinded the eyes for seeing the roses and the red and white of the roundabouts; they’ve disfigured the faces behind the candid, open smiles of children playing. That’s what I’ve learnt about bullets, shrapnel and landmines. And it’s something you won’t find in the books.”

— Alberto, EMERGENCY NGO anaesthetist in Afghanistan

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