One Step Beyond. Link to splash page


Portrait Sardar

My name is Sardar. I'm twelve years old. We are from Kunduz. My father and mother died in the war. That was two years ago. I was ten years old then.

On that day, I was taking my grandfather's livestock towards the desert to pasture. We went to that area every day. On that day, I was unlucky, and I stepped on a mine.

When the mine exploded, at first I didn't understand what had happened. It was a cold, rainy day – the fifteenth day of Ramadan. I was going there with my cousin, the son of my aunt. We brought the goats to one of the mountainsides. I came down the mountain to my animals. I wanted to take them from the meadow and bring them home. Between the mountains there is a gorge, a ravine. And close to the ravine, there are safety trenches. One of my goats went into this part. There is a lot of old metal, old iron and junk there. I followed the goat; I wanted to bring her back to the other goats. I went along the path to her.

Then I took the step. I took the step, and there was a bang. At that moment, I didn't understand what had happened. Then I was flung into the air. I lay on the ground and looked around. When I stood up, I fell down.

I called my cousin right away, who was close by. He said, "What happened?" I shouted, "Be careful that you don't get flung into the air too!" Then I told him, "Come over here and bind up my foot!"

At first the blood is warm, and you don't notice that it's flowing out. But then at some point you faint. You have to be quick and bind your foot so that the blood doesn't escape – can you imagine doing that? If you don't do it, if you just shout and are worried and afraid. I've seen a lot of people flung away by mines, and they just shouted and didn't bind their foot. And then they bled to death.

So he bound my foot, and I said, "Lift me onto your back." So he took me on his back and carried me a little way down the mountain. He didn't watch the animals anymore. But he wasn't strong enough to bring me to the road; he got tired and put me down. He took me about halfway down, but then he couldn't carry me any further. Some people came up the mountain from down below. My grandfather was with them, and lifted me onto his back. He carried me down. From there he took me to the hospital.

I didn't think about it. I didn't know that there were mines in the earth. I had never seen them. If I had seen them, why would I have walked on them?

Then ... also about this leg ... this leg is gone ... and half of the heel is missing from the other foot.


Mine PMN
Drawing by Sardar