A child brought up in war – Chapter 2

The war in Afghanistan, which nobody cares about anymore – how long will it last? A month? A year? Two years? After 19 years to date, no one has an answer to this question.

It happened around 2001 that the boy lost both his legs completely through no fault of his own at the childhood age of excitement and playfulness. His only fault was that he was born in a country that had been marked by the state of war for almost three decades. An area where thousands of people lost their lives and millions were driven from their homes. An area where loved ones were separated by terrorists and hundreds of thousands of innocent people like him suffered disabilities.

Yes, it was an incident that should never have happened. He should have lived a peaceful life like other children in peaceful countries, but the war turned his life into an existence without hope or motivation. He was no longer the child he was yesterday. This big change in his life made him forget his childhood. From now on he should think and act like an adult to avoid the worst and to ensure his survival. He decided to be stronger than ever before. Although it was very difficult for him, he had no choice but to accept the fact that he was no longer the same boy as the day before.

Photo: Rene Bernal

He could not play with his friends because he was no longer accepted by his friends and in the society he was born into. Disability was considered a crime in this society and there was a fear that he would “inject his disability into other children” if he played with them. This innocent child not only has to struggle with his disability, but also with those who thought that he should not live any longer, because it was a burden for his family and society.

It was already clear to him that he had lost a large part of his life and he had to prepare for a new one. In his first year after the incident he had to go through a lot: A few weeks in hospital for treatment and a year at home until the injury got better and he could use prostheses to walk. During this time, he struggled with himself to accept his situation and move on with his life. Although he was only ten years old, he made many plans for his future. His inner struggles had already made him think like an adult.

After his recovery, he could hardly wait to go to school and receive an education like any other child. For he knew that education is the only way to make life easier for himself. Only education could give him a better future without being a burden on his family and society. But his parents only thought from day to day. They had to survive in the here and now. After long negotiations with them he managed to convince them to allow him to attend school. But many schools did not want to accept him because he needed additional help and they were not willing to take on such a responsibility. He was so excited and happy when his dreams finally came true. He forgot that he was facing many new challenges.

Nevertheless he accepted the challenge and started school. It was not easy at all to get along with school. Not because he could not follow the lessons, but mainly because he was treated differently by his classmates, teachers and school staff. Many of these people in the school tried to indirectly tell him out of pity that he should better not be in school. It was too difficult for him to cope with all the movement at school. He also had to deal with many mean sayings and learn to ignore them. The boy was determined to create a bright future for himself through his own education.
The older he got, the more challenges he faced not only at school, but also in his family, with neighbours, relatives and in society in general. Not only did he have to learn to deal with people’s behaviour, but he also had to take care of his finances, as he had to cover the expenses for his school himself. His family was not able to pay for him and even asked him to bring food home.

He had to study for school and at the same time sold snacks on the street to earn some money. Not to forget that he started school late when he was already about ten years old.

And because he started school so late, he tried his best to learn extra so that he could finish school like other children of the same age.

Imagine that! You are at an age when it should have been about playing with other children and going to school, but for him everything was very different. He had to go to school, earn money and study extra to catch up at school. He had to fight against the obstacles imposed by society, deal with his disability and the pain caused by the prosthesis and the psychological suffering that was imposed on him in all areas of life.

Photo: Charles Deluvio

In all these circumstances, however, there was no choice for him but to cope with all of this and take up the fight against all of them, only to have the hope that in ten to twenty years he could have a better future. Although he had no idea if this would really ever happen, because in the country where he lived, anything could have happened at any moment.
The situation is currently deteriorating again and the Taliban are coming back to power. Every day they are gaining more control over many places, and people are afraid of this oppressive regime that could come back to power at any time.

The boy had learned something very important from the trip: if a person has determination, perseverance and patience and knows what you are fighting for, you manage to survive and win every fight. Many things in our lives, especially valuable and priceless things, do not come into being out of calm. To achieve difficult goals, we must be mentally and physically strong enough to fight for them. The journey of this innocent child was no exception. Although he went through many extremely difficult phases in his life, his strong determination, perseverance and diligence enabled him to achieve much more than he could have imagined and wished for.

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