“It’s here in Lashkar-gah that I began my experience with EMERGENCY. Seven years ago, in December 2008. Like me, there are quite a few nurses here that have followed the same route, living in Lashkar-gah at that time and still here in Afghanistan now, getting on with their work. Dimitra, Michela, Giorgia, Sabrina, Dejan… and many others who’ve witnessed and lived through the evolution of the conflict in these last few years.
There’s no doubt that the situation has got worse, the number of wounded has increased, and the degree of brutality has heightened. There’s no doubt about the fact that a lot – too much – has changed since then. Those who were here before us speak about how different it was, about how it was possible to travel by car from Kabul to Lashkar-gah. I didn’t see any of this: when I got here, the situation was already difficult. These years of conflict have stolen so much from the life of the Afghan people: homes, work, families, but above all hope. Our colleagues are Shams, Shawali, Abdul Ghafar, Rahmat, Hamyun, Koshal Faizullah… At the hardest times, like now, they gather around us and stay close to us. The passing years have seen a growing affection for people who’ve shared so many intense moments, along with esteem and mutual trust. They feel proud of us and of our will to carry on working, despite everything. We’re proud of them, forced to live in conditions of precariousness, uncertainty and doubt. Every morning, when they set off for work, they know they could be wounded in the street or they might find a relative or friend amongst the war victims they have to treat. Daily life drives these thoughts into a distant, hidden corner of the mind because otherwise it would be impossible to work, to get on with day-to-day tasks, to live. But you just have to take a look at the hospital wards to realise that these thoughts often turn into reality. Look at Zainullah, Arifa, Parwana and Samiullah: their combined ages don’t even add up to ten years, and yet they’re already having to fight to survive. Moments of tension, like here in Lashkar-gah right now, don’t separate us; on the contrary, they build relationships and make us stronger. Because a hospital like ours in Lashkar-gah gets under your skin, and won’t come out. Because now, more than ever before, we all feel we’re part of an idea, a project, a goal to be reached. EMERGENCY is here for this reason, and at times of tension we can only give our best. We have to do it. I wish I could name all of them. I wish you could know them too. Our patients, our colleagues. They’re not just numbers, statistics or “collateral damage”. They’re people. And that’s how they should be seen, always.” – Luca, EMERGENCY NGO coordinator in Afghanistan