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   H3'ed 9/21/15

Predators, Near and Far

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At this point, Jamila, facing a debt of 140,000 Afghanis (about $2333 U.S. dollars ), finds it hard to sleep, worrying for Fatima and her other children. How will she pay her debts? How can she buy flour to make bread so that the children have something to eat?

Her only means of income is through washing clothes. The people she washes clothes for say times are hard, and they don't have any income themselves. They have only paid her twice over the past two months, once in the form of some meat and rice.

Fatima in her mud house compound, with Ali,  an Afghan Peace Volunteer teacher who helped Fatima get a proper medical assessment
Fatima in her mud house compound, with Ali, an Afghan Peace Volunteer teacher who helped Fatima get a proper medical assessment
(Image by Dr. Hakim)
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Fatima in her mud house compound, with Ali,

an Afghan Peace Volunteer teacher who helped Fatima get a proper medical assessment

Jamila met the Afghan Peace Volunteers when Hadisa and Abdulhai visited her home in April this year as part of a survey designed to identify children who could participate in the Street Kids School. When Ali, a volunteer teacher at the Street Kids School, learned about Fatima's illness, he introduced Jamila to Hakim, the mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Hakim is a medical doctor from Singapore. Since 2004, when he first began working in Afghanistan, Hakim has recognized that the country's health care system is riddled by pervasively corrupt practices. Appalled by the massive doses of antibiotics prescribed for Fatima, Hakim recommended a stool sample analysis which could be done through the lab of a local hospital. The lab report showed that Fatima no longer needed the antibiotics, that her medical condition was normal.

The medical system in Afghanistan failed to help Jamila and Fatima. Lack of oversight allowed corrupt doctors and pharmacists to over-prescribe antibiotics, and Jamila had nowhere to turn for a second opinion or for any assistance. Greedy predators, purportedly delivering health care, have steadily taken money from desperate people, like Jamila, in payment for useless or even murderous treatments.

Jamila and Fatima clearly trust Hakim. They both looked relieved as he emphatically encouraged the mother and daughter to overcome fears about Fatima's health. He told Fatima that she can become strong and stay healthy by drinking clean water and having a healthy diet, including her favorite dishes of beans and chick peas. But Jamila faces another tragic health problem - she can't even afford flour for bread, let alone nutritious but costly beans for her children.

The World Food Programme recently reported an alarming rise in food insecurity, across Afghanistan.

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Kathy Kelly is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and a co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end economic sanctions against Iraq. She and her companions helped send over 70 delegations to Iraq, from 1996 to (more...)
 

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