• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
Haroon Hamdard edged toward a suspected explosive device lying in a field in western Afghanistan. His job as a demining worker was to identify such devices and figure out how to render them harmless. But the young worker stumbled. His foot hit a rock that tumbled forward and detonated a small bomb. Mr. Hamdard was left in critical condition, and lost his right arm. He was fitted with a barely functioning prosthetic arm. The married father of one was unemployed for the next six years. Hamdard finally got a job at Spark, a workshop in Kabul funded by a US nonprofit where people who have been disabled by land mines make demining equipment. Sale of the equipment funds rehabilitation clinics, one of which will finally outfit Hamdard with a better prosthetic arm.
After three decades of war, Afghanistan is littered with land mines. Insurgents have been increasingly conflating foreign aid with foreign occupation and demining organizations feel the brunt of this. The majority of nongovernmental workers detained by armed groups in 2011 were deminers – the Taliban tend not to appreciate those who try to remove their bombs. Many Afghans continue to be injured by land mines, but the level of care Hamdard received is rarely available outside Kabul.