Ali was out grazing his family's goats one day in March 2020, when he took a step that would change his life forever.
He stepped on an explosive remnant of war, one of the many weapons left from war that contaminates his village in Afghanistan.
The 9-year-old boy was seriously injured and rushed to a hospital. Doctors there had no choice but to amputate Ali's leg below his knee.
"Ali couldn't walk after his accident," says the boy’s uncle. "We were desperate. We couldn’t leave him alone. Without his leg, he needed help from dawn till dusk. We were all stressed and really upset."
Plagued by conflict, poverty, explosive weapons
Ali lives with his parents and five siblings in a village in Afghanistan that is mired by conflict. Villagers face extreme poverty, cut off from vital resources, their farmland contaminated with explosive weapons. Ali's father, who used to work as a day laborer, can no longer find work.
Ali was caring for his family's goats – their only means of survival – when the blast stole his right leg.
Road to recovery
Soon after Ali's operation, the Humanity & Inclusion team began working to fit him with an artificial limb at its rehabilitation center in Kandahar. Humanity & Inclusion teams have worked in Afghanistan since 1987.
"I’m really grateful to the Humanity & Inclusion team for doing their best to make Ali's prosthesis so quickly, and for helping him do his walking exercises," says Ali’s uncle, who accompanied his nephew at the rehabilitation center. "He can walk now and he’s really hopeful about the future."
Ali began physical therapy in April and was fitted for his first artificial limb soon after. During six, daylong sessions with the Humanity & Inclusion team in May, Ali learned to walk again and final adjustments were made to his prosthetic.
Within two months of the tragic event, Ali went home to his family with a new artificial leg that helps him be the same active boy he was before. Since then, Ali has returned a couple of times to Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation center for follow-up care and minor repairs to his artificial limb.
"The first time I visited the center, my uncle had to carry me," Ali explains. "I couldn't walk. But now I can go home on my own two legs and play with other children again. I feel happier since I got my new leg."
Dreams beyond the region's conflict
Ali is a fighter and a lover of cricket. But even with his new leg, Ali's life is not back to normal.
Conflict continues in the region where he lives. The threat of Covid-19 is ever-present. Schools are closed. Survival is uncertain. Still, Ali dreams of a peaceful future in which he can return to the classroom.
"Now I have a new leg I can go back to school and get an education," Ali says. "I could do anything I want. I like drawing a lot but what I really want to do when I grow up is to be a doctor so I can help people!"
Header Image: A Humanity & Inclusion team member, who is wearing a mask and medical scrubs, squats on the floor of a rehabilitation center in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He is fitting a prosthetic leg on a young boy named Ali, who is sitting on a bench. The boy is smiling at the man.
Inline Image: A young boy named Ali sits on a bench outside in Afghanistan. His left leg is amputated below his knee. Copyright: Jaweed Tanveer