Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Helping Afghan Burn Victims

A local plastic surgeon heads back to his native Afghanistan each year to help burn victims.

Afghanistan can be a place of extreme desolation and tragedy.

With such a bleak outlook, hundreds of women set themselves on fire each year, just to escape their lives.

It's a common practice in western Afghanistan, and plastic reconstructive surgeon Ghafar Bawar sees it all the time.

Bawar immigrated to Canada from Afghanistan 9 years ago, but has gone back to the country for the past two years to run a burn unit in Herat. It's the only such centre in Afghanistan.

The women believe they will die quickly, but instead they experience excruciating pain. Without surgery, they would die from infection, or end up with contracture, a disability where the limbs pull together and become immobile.

The centre may not be open for much longer, as the World Bank no longer pays Bawar for his services.
Donations to the centre can be made through Humaniterra International by specifying that it's for the Herat Burn Centre. People can also contact Dr. Bawar directly at

A word of warning: some people may find the video for this story disturbing.