Education And Debate

Kabul diary

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7155.401 (Published 08 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:401
  1. Kamran Abbasi
  1. BMJ.

    News p 369

    When the charity Child Advocacy International invited the BMJ to experience aid work in war torn Kabul, I took the plunge.

    Tuesday 3 March: Manchester, England

    Aid work needs complex logistic support, and I'm greeted by workers from the children's charity Child Advocacy International pushing trolleys crammed with medical supplies. In two weeks the charity has accumulated $60 000 (£37 000) of donated medical equipment. The aim is to renovate the paediatric intensive care ward of the Indira Gandhi Children's Hospital in Kabul, the main paediatric hospital in Afghanistan, thus providing the impetus for the refurbishment of the whole hospital.

    Marshalling the charity workers is David Southall, professor of paediatrics and founder of Child Advocacy International. We are accompanied by three aid workers from the Duchess of York's children's charity, Children in Crisis, which is working with Child Advocacy International in Afghanistan. David Sogan, projects manager for Children in Crisis, feels that the trip should go well, as the team has negotiated carefully with the British representative of the Taliban, the much criticised rulers of Afghanistan.

    I wonder why these people risk their lives in war torn countries. As the plane takes off, I also wonder why I am risking mine too.

    Wednesday 4 March: Islamabad, Pakistan

    As many internal Pakistani flights are on small jets, with little room for our equipment, we hire a minibus—known locally as a flying coach—and head for Peshawar along the Great Trunk Road. We crawl rather than soar—heavy rains and a bald tyre—enduring five cramped hours on a muddy road. Arriving in Peshawar, Sogan takes his wife Judit, a barrister interested in international children's rights, and Linda Burbridge, a marketing manager whose bank has made donations to Children in Crisis, to the bazaar to attire them for Kabul. The Taliban have ordered that Afghan men must grow their beards and that …

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