Because war has been going on for so long in this country, many people in Afghanistan have someone in the family who is disabled. Unfortunately, most of them do not respect these family members. They think disabled people are a problem and they make others’ lives harder.
I want to share a story about a woman I know who stepped on a landmine and suddenly her life changed.
Meena was a student when the Taliban came. The situation was very bad in Afghanistan and when her school shut down, Meena went to Pakistan where she met a man. She called him Jan Iaghah, which means “sweet person.”
They were in love. Her family agreed they could marry and they were happy and after two years they had a daughter and they loved her. Meena’s husband was a good person, and they respected each other and the family.
In 2002, when the Taliban left Meena’s home province for other places like Kandahar or Helmand, many families like Meena’s returned to Afghanistan. She went back to finish school and she got a job as a teacher.
One day on her way to school, she was injured by a landmine and she lost her leg. At that time her daughter was nine years old. Meena spent a long time in hospital, but her husband never asked to visit. She worried all the time about why her husband didn’t come to ask about her.
After three years, she got a letter from her husband that said, “I can’t be with you anymore now that you are disabled, and I can’t keep you anymore. Please don’t ask about your daughter any more. She is no longer your daughter.”
Meena became hopeless and cried all the time. Her husband never came to see her and he wouldn’t let her daughter visit her.
After she left the hospital, I saw Meena almost every day for two months because we were both taking a course in sewing clothes. She was living with her father and learning sewing so she could earn some money. Her mother had died and her father was an old man so it was left to Meena to support the family.
I saw that she looked sad all the time, so I asked her why she wasn’t talking very much. “Why do you look so hopeless,” I asked. Then she told me this story.
She said, “I don’t have anything now in my life, and I am just waiting to die.”
She thought that it was she who was the problem and she had told herself she was not a good wife, mother, or daughter. She said her husband had married another woman and they had two children and were happy.
When I asked her why she wanted to learn to sew clothes, she said, “I don’t like to sew clothes. I love to teach and be with people, but I can’t do that now because I am disabled.”
I said to her, “Nothing is impossible. If you work hard, everything comes out in the end. Don’t be hopeless, because if you’re hopeless you will lose everything.”
I shared this story with my father and he found a job for her washing dishes. It was not a very good job, but she could make some money and she found some hope that her disability did not have to be a problem.
Sometimes she comes to our house to say hello to my father. Now she is a little bit happier, but she can’t forget her daughter.
Before her accident, Meena had a nice family and a good job. She loved her husband and daughter and her work as a teacher, but when she became disabled everything changed. Her husband made her think that now she was a problem and he left her alone in the hospital.
We all have problems in our lives, yet life keeps going. Meena became disabled. She lost her family, but she is still alive. She decided to find some reason to live and she found a job and made her life a bit better. Her life is not like it was before her accident, but it is better now.
Life is not without problems. But how we think about and deal with our problems is one of the most important things in life. One the worst problems we have in Afghanistan is how disabled people are treated.