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    Christmas Comes Early and Often for Those at Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health

    Christmas Comes Early and Often for Those at Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Monica Nelson | Children in Afghanistan are occasionally burned from improvised explosive devices...... read more read more

    By Petty Officer 1st Class Monica R. Nelson
    International Security Assistance Force

    KABUL, Afghanistan - Children in the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health's burn ward undergo a huge amount of suffering. In a place where their recovery includes flies swarming around open flesh and bandages often being reused, service members from International Security Assistance Force Headquarters regularly bring hope and smiles to the children's faces through their gifts of medical supplies, crayons, stuffed animals – and themselves.

    Many of the donated items come from the United States, while service members come from Great Britain, Germany, Turkey, Canada and others. The language is universal – love – and it's spoken through the gift of a beanie baby or a game of Pictionary.

    "The children are just really suffering, flies swarming all over their bodies," said U.S. Navy Lt. Jessica Gandy of Milmay, N.J. "There are no screens on the doors or the windows. They really have nothing. The doctors just said to me today, 'do you have any pens?'"

    The hospital is the only pediatric hospital in all of Afghanistan. Its operating budget provided by the Afghan government is $400 a month. The 15 boxes of medical supplies brought by ISAF service members on Nov. 20 will help to bridge the gap between life and death.

    "The conditions are horrible and the hospital is very dirty," said United States Air Force Staff Sgt. Barbara Garcia of Los Angeles. "There are a lot of flies. The bandages are not sanitary; they are not sterile. I don't think the medical attention here is what they need; a lot of them don't make it."

    Some of the children's burns are from improvised explosive devices put in place by the country's enemies of peace. Some are from household kerosene lamps bursting in flames. And some come from a form of discipline - where diesel fuel, or hot water, is thrown on them.

    "Faisal, he was there last time I came here, and he was very badly burned ... to the point he could barely blink, he could barely speak," said Garcia of a 6-year old boy she met at Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health on Nov. 5. Faisal couldn't move his arms, but Garcia drew pictures for him. He would say what they were in Dari, and she would repeat it. And then she would say what it was in English, and he would repeat it.

    On Nov. 20 Garcia had the opportunity to see Faisal again when she came with ISAF volunteers and supplies.

    "I came back this time, and in my heart, I really didn't think he would be here. But he was, and he is amazingly better. He can move, and he was drawing, and we were playing with the slinky. It was just really awesome to see how well he's doing."

    According to Abdul Wakil, an Afghan native who frequently visits the hospital with volunteers from ISAF, the gifts and presence of the international militaries are a positive reminder to the Afghan people that they are remembered, that people are uniting to help the Afghan government.

    "This is really an encouragement to the people to see soldiers holding the babies on their shoulders and bringing a lot of stuff," said Wakil. "People in the villages feel that they are forgotten. But when the troops come in the uniforms helping the kids, it's just really encouraging to them."



    Date Taken: 11.23.2008
    Date Posted: 11.23.2008 05:30
    Story ID: 26683
    Location: KABUL, AF 

    Web Views: 402
    Downloads: 323