Friday, May 28, 2010
Wounded Girl Update
Here's a bit of positive news about one of five children wounded when Marines returned mortar fire on the village of Kenjak-Olya.
Rozya, 6, was the most seriously wounded. Her face was torn up and her left arm was badly mangled. She lost that left arm but her face isn't as badly damaged as feared. Yesterday her father, Khan Mohammad, 40, came to our combat base looking for his daughter. He had not been told the extent of her injuries.
To make sure he really was her father he was photographed and that picture was e-mailed to the hospital in Kandahar. Rozya did not recognize him, throwing the entire issue in doubt. But when he returned today and told she did not recognize him, he suggested it was the medication she was on. She had given the medical staff the names of two of her brothers. When Mohammad was asked, he gave the same names. But the clincher came when he was shown a photograph of her in a hospital bed: He broke down in tears. Afghan men don't cry in public. I've told this story to several Afghan interpreters and they were astounded at the public display of emotion. Later, Rozya was shown her father's photograph again today and this time she called him "papa."
Mohammad assured the medical staff here that his daughter will be welcomed back into the family despite her scars and the missing arm. Healthy daughters are an important family asset. Grooms pay for their brides, and they pay a substantial amount. For instance, at the current market prices for opium and girls, Rozya would have been worth her weight in raw opium. (In U.S. dollars about $9,000.) Rozya's prospects will be diminshed, the father said. She might end up having to marry a cousin at a discounted price.