This week’s cover of Time Magazine features a young Afghan woman who has been disfigured by the Taliban. Time’s editor, Richard Stengel, appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the decision to put Aisha on the cover and the broader issue of what will happen to women like her if the U.S. leaves Afghanistan.
As I read Aisha’s story, I learned that she was traveling to the U.S. for treatment. This isn’t a new story, but it is one that is sometimes difficult to understand. The organizations and individuals involved have the best intentions, but taking a patient to the U.S. isn’t always the only option.
The CURE hospital in Kabul has been performing complex reconstructive surgeries like Aisha’s for the last five years. In fact, her story reminded me of another young girl named Fariah. When Fariah came to our hospital, she looked very much like Aisha, although her nose had been eaten by parasites, not mutilated by the Taliban. Fariah endured the mocking of her schoolmates and had very little hope of becoming a wife and mother. Because of the reconstructive plastic surgery available at CURE, today Fariah can look forward to a normal life. You can read her story here.
CURE has a training program for Afghan doctors in reconstructive plastic surgery. These dedicated surgeons, along with the support provided by visiting American surgeons, have brought new hope to women like Aisha and Fariah. They have performed more than 1,000 cleft lip and palate surgeries, performed complex surgeries on burn victims and helped victims of violence recover from their wounds.
So while it is difficult to see the images in Time, it is comforting to know that CURE has brought a new level of medical care and expertise to this war-ravaged country. It is our hope that we will remain there to serve the Afghan people for many years.