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Source: Doctors Without Borders –

On Sunday, Safia was chatting outside her house. The weather is changing in Afghanistan. It’s a little cooler and less comfortable to be outside, but on that day more than the weather was changing. The previous day, people in Safia’s village heard the sounds of fighting getting closer. And today, maybe too close. [Standing on the street,] Safia felt a sudden pain. A stray bullet had pierced both of them—mother and unborn child.

And so the journey began—a rush to the hospital before it was too late. But rushing isn’t easy around Lashkar Gah, and the fighting forced Safia’s family to take a longer route to the main trauma hospital.

After travelling for hours, Safia was referred from the first health facility they reached to the MSF-supported Boost provincial hospital. This is where we crossed paths. After a lifesaving Caesarean-section, Safia is now stable. But without her child.

On Monday, the family went back to their village to bury the baby. Safia remained with us in intensive care. As the family gathered for the funeral ceremony, they had to flee from more shooting. They made their way back to the hospital to wait for Safia to be discharged.

Safia’s grief in the ward consumes me—in the womb or in the grave, her firstborn had no peace.

I also sat with Zina this morning, in the female surgical ward. Her breast is bandaged from where she was shot by a stray bullet that narrowly missed her eight-month-old baby. She was breastfeeding at the time [of the incident]. When Zina sought care, she had to leave her baby at home with her oldest child, who is still small. I think of this, a child left at home to care for a baby while your mother receives treatment for a gunshot wound.

As I got up to go, Zina asked me, “When can I go home? I need to feed my baby.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the patients.