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Rehabilitation Program improving lives of disabled Afghans

Afghanistan, January 7, 2002

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For Afghan families living in the refugee villages in Baluchistan Province, Pakistan, the challenges they face each day are enormous. This is especially true for those who are disabled, as well as for those who must care for disabled relatives, children and friends.

Mercy Corps’ Baluchistan Community Rehabilitation Program is helping disabled Afghan refugees by providing much needed orthotics, prosthetics and physiotherapy services which enable many to become more mobile and independent in their daily activities.

It is also providing hope to those who need it most.

“Before we starting coming to the Basic Health Unit, my sister was like a dead body. We would have been happy if she had just died,” said Bibi Lal whose sister, Bibi Hawa, suffers from hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy and lives in the Saranan refugee village.

“With physical therapy she has changed. She is getting better now. She can sit propped by pillows, she can eat and recognize people, her eyesight has improved and she laughs. We don’t want her to die anymore because day by day she is getting better.”

In addition to lending physical support to disabled people, the program also plays an important educational role. Mercy Corps has five male and female trainers who provide community awareness about disability prevention, early childhood care and proper maintenance of prosthetic devices.

The clinic also tries to raise awareness of the dangers of landmines. This is especially critical for refugees planning on returning to Afghanistan where:

  • Last year an average of 88 landmine accidents were reported each month in Afghanistan with many more left unreported.

  • One out of every ten Afghan refugee is disabled – many a result of a landmine accident.

  • Thirty percent of landmine casualties are children.

One landmine victim who is thankful for the clinic is Malghalara, a widow in her forties who lives in the Surkhab refugee village.

“My new prosthetic leg will have a huge impact on my economic life,” she said. “I will be mobile.”

The program is funded through a three-year grant from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.