ITALIAN physiotherapist helps Afghans disabled in three decades of war, restoring limbs and dignity. 

ALBERT CAIRO, a young Italian lawyer-turned-physiotherapist, arrived in Kabul in 1990 as the  American-backed  guerrillas  besieged the capital city of the Communist backed government.

He has never left - becoming the beloved Mr. Alberto who has fixed  limbs and given hope through wars that never ceased entirely, and continue to kill and maim in record numbers.

Last week, the physical rehabilitation program for Afghanistan of the International Committee of the  Red Cross, which Mr. Cairo has led through several governments, commemorated its 30th anniversary.

The program has cared for nearly 180,000 patients and built about 200,000 artificial limbs     -numbers Mr. Cairo tallies with deep breath.

But for Mr. Cairo now 66, it's not just about  prosthetic legs and wheelchairs. As he often remind visitors, it's about dignity.

''When you lose a leg, you don't just lose a leg - you lose a piece of heart, you lose a piece of mind, you lose a piece of self-confidence,'' Mr. Caro said last Wednesday in Kabul, at one of seven rehabilitation centers that he leads across the country.

''All this has to be restored, and all together it makes dignity.''

Mr. Cairo, who grew up in Turn, Italy, before moving to Milan, had studied to be a lawyer.  But drawn to relief work, he retrained in physical therapy.

One of his Mr. Cairo's postings with the Red Cross took him to Kabul that was under siege. What has kept him here, he said, is the daily reward of empowering people ostracized for their disabilities.

The sadness in honor and serving of this post, continues. The World Students Society thanks author and researcher Mujib Mashal, Kabul, Afghanistan.


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