A teenage girl named Safa stands with the support of a standing frame while coloring in Afghanistan

Safa makes strides despite living with paraplegia

Since meeting Humanity & Inclusion’s mobile team in Afghanistan’s Herat region, 14-year-old Safa has covered a lot of ground. 

When Safa was a young girl, she fell sick with a high fever. Her muscles got weak and, over time, she began living with paraplegia as her legs were paralyzed and deformed. Safa would spend hours sitting or lying down, which only worsened her situation. 

Since Safa began working with Humanity & Inclusion’s mobile team, the teenager can finally stand, take a few steps, draw and dream of a new life. Safa is one of more than 4,000 people in Herat to whom Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency mobile teams provided care in 2020. 

These teams provide rehabilitation and psychosocial support to people living in areas affected by decades of conflict, working specifically to provide physical therapy and assistive devices to people with disabilities.

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Humanity & Inclusion provided Safa with at-home rehabilitation care, a wheelchair, and equipment adapted to her everyday life, and also referred her to partner organization to be fitted with orthotics to help her walk.

"I met Safa during one of our disability awareness sessions," explains one of Humanity & Inclusion’s physical therapists working in Herat. "This girl with paraplegia received no support unfortunately and she was almost completely reliant on others. Now, I visit her regularly to do rehabilitation exercises. She can stand upright and her deformities are less severe. Once she had regained some strength in her muscles, we gave her a walking frame. Safa is happy and proud of the progress she has made in just a few months.”

Sitting and standing again have changed Safa’s life. She can draw and take part in everyday activities. She wants a normal life and would like to go to school. One thing's for sure: Safa is working hard to become more self-reliant and she is filled with hope for the future.

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Image: A teenage girl named Safa stands with the support of a standing frame in Afghanistan. She is coloring. Copyright: O. Zerah/HI