A teenage boy named Juma sits in a wheelchair surrounded by other children in Afghanistan
Afghanistan

Air strike changes Juma's life forever

An air strike struck the Afghan home of Juma, 14, leaving him with quadriplegia. Regaining his independence is his top goal, and Humanity & Inclusion is right by his side to reach it.

One night in October 2019, the lives of Juma and his family were rocked by a terrible explosion. His family’s home was targeted in an air strike that killed his 3-year-old sister and injured his father. A severe injury to his brain and spinal cord left Juma with quadriplegia, and difficulty speaking.

Terrible price

Displaced, mourning and permanently injured, Juma and his family are paying a heavy toll for an air strike in a conflict they know nothing about. Following the tragedy, Juma’s family fled their village in central Afghanistan's Ghor Province, and took refuge in a camp for displaced people near the city of Herat, where they live in a small mud house in extreme poverty.

Juma's father was left disabled by a shoulder injury, and can no longer work. Isolated and without income, the family’s main concern is how to meet their basic needs.

Before Humanity & Inclusion arrived at the camp, Juma hadn’t received any help. Unable to move, the teenage boy spent most of his time in bed. Sometimes his mother would take him outside to enjoy the sun and fresh air.

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'Hope returned'

Everything changed when Humanity & Inclusion's mobile emergency team first traveled to meet Juma in September 2020. The team visited his home and provided him with rehabilitation care and taught his parents exercises to do with their son. The team also gave the family advice about coping with everyday problems. Juma continues to receive regular follow-up care.

"When Humanity & Inclusion came to our home, hope returned,” explains Juma's mother. “It was really hard for me to carry my son all day. He couldn't move at all and he was depressed.”

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Juma’s mother says she is already seeing her son make progress.

“The team started his treatment right away and gave him a wheelchair and equipment. I also learned how to do his rehabilitation exercises with him,” she says. “He can move his hands again, he is feeling better, and he can do certain things by himself. I am really grateful to Humanity & inclusion for their help."

Support for the whole family

In addition to providing physical rehabilitation to Juma, Humanity & Inclusion is also providing psychosocial support for his entire family. The family talks with the mobile team’s counselor, sharing their feelings, discussing their problems, and brainstorming solutions together. This psychosocial support makes it easier for the family to cope with the trauma they’ve endured and the challenges they face. They are not alone.

As for Juma, he has regained some of his mobility and his morale is improving.

“I would like to walk again and go to school, just like the other children,” he says.

Juma is a brave boy and continues to do his rehabilitation exercises with his mother. His beautiful smile has returned, giving hope to the whole family.

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Header image: A teenage boy named Juma sits in a wheelchair surrounded by other children in Afghanistan. Copyright: O. Zerah/HI
Inline image: Juma laughs during a rehabilitation session with a member of Humanity & Inclusion’s team in front of his family’s mud home in Afghanistan. Copyright: O. Zerah/HI