Posted By: Erica
Hayatullah Khan listens to English language radio every day, like clockwork. “He listens to the science program,” his brother told me. “That is his favorite thing because one day on the program, they talked about a treatment in the US for [restoring] eyesight and it gave him hope.”
Hayatullah lost his eyesight six years before, when US Air Force bombs mistakenly hit the road he was walking home on. One person was killed and four others were seriously injured, including Hayatullah. Shrapnel from the bomb embedded in Hayatullah’s right eye and the bomb blast caused him to lose all but a faint light sensitivity in his left eye. He also lost his left hand in the explosion, and one finger from his right hand. Hayatullah was 19 at the time.
“Before the bombing, my brother wanted to go to school outside Afghanistan to get better educated,” his brother told me. “His dream was one day to go to London. Right before the incident he was working hard on his English. …All the time he was studying and then [the bombing] happened. Now he can study nothing.”
After the incident, Hayatullah’s family wrote to local US military officials, to the military base at Bagram Air Base, and to the US Embassy in Kabul to find medical assistance that would help Hayatullah get his eyesight back. The doctors at the Bagram clinic saw him but said that the resources to help him were simply not available in Afghanistan. They told him about the US condolence program, but the family refused the money: our priority is Hayatullah’s vision, they said, we don’t want anything else.
It has been seven years and one operation and repeated multiple medical check-ups and inquiries have done nothing for Hayatullah’s eyes. Despite this, he and his family remain hopeful. They recently found out that the necessary medical treatment may be available in India. If they are able to demonstrate that a viable treatment exists and find a doctor in India to certify that he can do it, then ACAP can help Hayatullah get to Delhi to have the operation.
When I talked to Hayatullah, he insisted on speaking with me in English, without the use of a translator. I asked him what he would do if he were able to get to Delhi for the treatment “I would like to start studying again,” he said. “When I get [my vision] again I can finally do what I planned to do before the incident.” His mother pulled me aside afterwards, “We are all praying for him,” she said. “Please anything you can do to help him.”
Photo of Hayatullah (top) and a copy of one of the many letters his brother has written on his behalf to get treatment for him (bottom).