Operation New Pair of Legs: Rhamatullah

ISAF provides hope, future for one Afghan youth and his family

Story by James Arnold, HQ ISAF Public Affairs

KABUL, Afghanistan (Dec. 15, 2012) – Rhamatullah, 14, was playing outside near his home in Panjwa’i District, Kandahar last January when he encountered an improvised explosive device (IED) that took both his legs. With help from ISAF, and other organizations including the Lamia Afghan Foundation, A Leg To Stand On (ALTSO), and the Kabul Orthopedic Organization (KOO), this young Afghan can now walk again. 

Lt Col. Wilson Rutherford IV and Capt. Brian Kitching, Combined Task Force (CTF) Tomahawks (1-23 Infantry Battalion), first met young Rhamatullah during a Shura attended by Afghan leaders from Kandahar, local village elders, and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Touched by the young man’s story, Rutherford and Kitching notified Capt. Victor Chavez, Team Leader, Civil Affairs Team 613, 426th Civil Affairs Battalion, to find a way to help young Rhamatullah.  

The Lamia Afghan Foundation, a humanitarian organization founded by retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, and his wife Jan, helped the civil affairs battalion coordinate with the Kabul Orthopedic Organization’s (KOO) in order to get prosthetic limbs for Rhamatullah.

Members from CTF Tomahawks safely transported Rhamatullah first to Kandahar Air Field (KAF) and then to Kabul by air.

“This small act to assist this young man to once again be able to walk and provide a future for his family is a sign of our commitment to improve his quality of life and hope for his future prosperity and to show how ISAF stands shoulder to shoulder with our Afghan partners against the insurgency,” said Chavez.

Rhamatullah arrived at the KOO Center where he was fitted with prosthetic legs, which were donated by the organization, A Leg To Stand On (ALTSO). Soon after, Rhamatullah started his new life by taking his first steps with the assistance of a hand rail and walker. 

The excitement on his face of once again being able to walk was enough gratitude to all those who participated in making this possible. Rhamatullah’s smile had the capacity to cross linguistic and cultural barriers and he made many friends within each of the supporting organizations. Rhamatullah and his family were very thankful for all the supplies donated to them by members of the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion during their stay in Kabul.

The KOO (Kabul Orthopedics Organization) assisted with the fitting of his specially made prosthetics. The medical staff provided excellent care to ensure that his treatment allows for a proper fitting and that Rhamatullah felt comfortable with his prosthetics.

After his treatment was complete at the KOO, Rhamatullah was excited to go back to his village and show his mother his new legs.

He was just one of the many children helped by ALTSO helped this year.  

“With our program in Kabul has treated 366 children providing 12 prostheses, 351 orthoses, and 41 mobility devices,” said A.J. Warco, Director of ALTSO's Global Medical Programs.

Rhamatullah expressed his gratitude to everyone that assisted him in getting his prosthetic legs and improve his quality of life. He looks forward to his new life.