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In a single night, a deafening explosion changed Juma's life forever

Explosive weapons Rehabilitation
Afghanistan

Seriously injured in an air strike on his home, Juma, 14, suffered brain damage and is now quadriplegic. Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is assisting him and helping him regain his independence.

Seriously injured in an air strike on his home, Juma, 14, suffered brain damage and is now quadriplegic.

Seriously injured in an air strike on his home, Juma, 14, suffered brain damage and is now quadriplegic. | © O. Zerah / HI

One night in October 2019, the lives of Juma and his family were wrecked by a terrible explosion. His family home was targeted in an air strike which killed his three-year-old sister and injured his father in the shoulder. Juma himself was so severely injured in the back that he can neither move nor speak properly. As a result of his severe spinal cord injuries, he is now quadriplegic. He also suffered brain damage.

A terrible price to pay for the bombing

Mourning, disability, displacement and misery are the heavy toll paid by this innocent family for the air strike and a conflict they know nothing about. Following the tragedy, Juma’s battered and dazed family fled their village in Ghor province, central Afghanistan. They 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 the injury to his left shoulder. Since he can no longer work, the family has no income and remains fairly isolated. Their primary concern is to meet their basic needs.

This was one of the reasons why Juma had received no help before HI arrived, in addition to the difficulty accessing health care in the camp. He was unable to move or even use his hands and spent most of his time in bed. Sometimes his mother would take him outside to enjoy the sun and fresh air.

"When HI came to our home, hope returned"

Everything changed this year when HI's mobile emergency team travelled to meet Juma. The team visited his home and provided him with rehabilitation care, taught his parents exercises to do with their son, and gave them advice on coping with everyday problems. Juma was then given regular follow-up care.

"When HI came to our home, hope returned. It was really hard for me to carry my son all day. He couldn't move at all and he was depressed," explains Juma's mother. "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 at home. This is very important. He has already made progress: he can move his hands again, he is feeling better, and he can do certain things by himself. I am really grateful to HI for their help."

Psychosocial support

The family can also confide in and talk to the mobile team’s counsellor. Sharing their feelings, talking about their problems, and thinking about solutions together makes it easier to cope with the many worries and challenges they face and helps them feel less alone.

Juma 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. He 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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