KABUL – The moment of euphoria is visible on the face of this little boy from Afghanistan who breaks into an impromptu dance, flashing an innocent grin after getting a new prosthetic leg.
Five-year-old Sayeed Rehman does not know what resilience means, a word used several times over the last few days to describe him. He is just happy that he can dance again with his new prosthetic leg, one of many that he has worn during his short life.
“I like to dance, and I am very happy with my new leg. Do you want to see me dance?” he offers, while talking to The National at Kabul prosthetic clinic on Tuesday.
A video of a cheerful Sayeed Rehman dancing at the International Committee of the Red Cross orthopedic center went viral after it was published on Monday.
Despite Sayeed Rehman’s happy demeanor, the youngster has had to overcome the dark past. When he was eight-months-old, Sayeed Rehman was caught in crossfire between government and insurgent forces in his home province of Logar, 60 kilometers outside the capital Kabul.
“We were caught between an ongoing battle between the Afghan forces and the Taliban. Rehman and sister got shot at. While my daughter suffered bullet wounds to her kidney and legs, Rehman’s right leg was badly injured,” Sayeed Rehman’s mother Raesa told The National. Raesa also lost her brother and nephew in that same attack.
“We rushed the injured to the Emergency clinic at the provincial center; Rehman’s injuries were so severe he had to be hospitalized for a month-and-a-half,” she recalled.
Soon after his leg was amputated.
The years that followed were particularly difficult for Raesa, who has worked as a farm laborer to support her family of seven since her ailing husband has been unable to work. “These kind of attacks happen very frequently in our area. There are times we can’t even step out of the house for chores and work,” she said.
The added cost of medical treatment for Sayeed Rehman has been an additional burden for the family.
“I would take him to clinics everyday, carrying him in my arms,” Raesa said. “I looked after his recovery, and did all this while working in the farms. There is no one else to take care of us so it fell on me. I was mentally broken, too.”
Sayeed Rehman has grown into a loving and energetic child, despite all sorts of difficulties. “He became so happy when he first got his leg,” Raesa said. “He would walk and run in the fields. He sings and dances all the time. He is a very jovial kid who loves to make jokes. Everyone who met him gets so happy.”
Sayeed Rehman’s happy dance, for many Afghans, is an embodiment of the spirit of Afghanistan: Resilience in the face of tragedy.
Last year, UNAMA reported 927 children were killed and 2,135 wounded.
Schools across the country have also been targeted for attack, or occupied by armed groups.
Sayeed Rehman and his siblings are not in school, owing to the security situation.
“There is a school in our area but we haven’t yet admitted the children to it because of war,” Raesa said.
But she continues to nurture hopes for a better future for Sayeed Rehman and his siblings. “I do want him to go to school, get educated and be a doctor or some kind of an influential man.”