October 3, 2015, will forever remain a dark day in the history of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). On that day, in the early morning hours, MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was hit with precise and repeated airstrikes for more than an hour. Even as the attack continued, our colleagues fought for their lives and for the lives of their patients with extraordinary determination and courage.
Fourteen MSF colleagues lost their lives that tragic day. All of MSF grieves with the victims’ families. They will be missed tremendously but never forgotten.
As one of them, Zabiullah, wrote in one of his poems:
“Time will fly, but its memory will remain,
Wounds will heal, but its stain will remain.”
Abdul Maqsood was 22 years old and worked as a patient information focal point. An enthusiastic and skilled cricket player, he began his career in the hospital as a daily worker and was very proud when he was recruited as a permanent member of the team after only a few months. Maqsood showed dedication to his job and felt that working in the hospital was a great honor. His positive attitude and commitment to his work will be truly missed.
Twenty-two-year-old Abdul Nasir was a hospital cleaner. He was born in Kunduz Province and had been working for MSF since July 2013. He was described by those who knew him as a very decent and hard-working person who was always ready to contribute and went above and beyond what his job demanded of him. He was very polite, and known to assist both patients and their caretakers. He was often sitting or standing close to the door of the intensive care unit; whenever someone entered he was faster than anyone else to help. He offered invaluable support to many people.
Friendly and easygoing, 29-year-old Abdul Salam was a nurse in the operating theater. He was one of the most passionate workers among the Kunduz Trauma Center staff and enjoyed every second of his life. As well as being an experienced OT nurse, he also possessed a diploma in pharmacy and liked to play cricket and Buzkashi (Afghanistan’s national sport) in his spare time. During the heavy fighting in the week leading up to the attack, he barely slept and worked long hours to help his people and colleagues as much as he could. He thrived under challenging circumstances. He was married and leaves behind two children, including a newborn baby.
Abdul Satar Zaheer, 47, was the deputy medical director at MSF’s Kunduz Trauma Center. He managed a large group of staff and was described by all who worked with him as conscientious, empathetic, and respectful. He was often working until the middle of the night. If his son would ask him to work less, he would say that he was not working, but serving the Afghan people.
Dr. Satar always listened to input from others and would not hesitate to change working methods where necessary if it allowed the medical teams to work more effectively. He was known for his incredible patience and sense of humor. The night of the attack he decided to stay close to his patients instead of taking a rest, and was sharing jokes with the other staff on duty to try to lift their spirits. He was the proud father of eight children, often sharing stories about how smart they are.
Dr. Aminullah Bajawri was a 32-year-old father and emergency room doctor. Like so many others, when the fighting broke out in Kunduz, he decided not to leave the city in search of safety, instead staying to help his people, friends, and colleagues. He worked the whole week before the attack and felt personally responsible for any patients who did not recover while he was on duty.
Admired for his clear, rational perception of medical problems and pragmatic approach to treating patients, Dr. Amin was considered extremely dependable, extensively learned, flexible, and very kindly in his approach to his patients. It was his dream to become a neurosurgeon, because the lack of neurosurgeons in Afghanistan means children often die for lack of proper treatment. He also taught at Kunduz University and was highly respected by his students.
Born in Kunduz, Lal Mohammad was 28 years old. He always had a smile on his face and served as a mentor for the younger nurses. He was kind-natured and always ready to help people in need. His dedication to his patients went beyond providing medical care; he would always try to give as much comfort and support to them as he could. We will always remember his smile, his eagerness to learn, and his positive energy. He is survived by a wife and three children.
At 32 years old, Dr. Mohammad Ehsan Osmani was a young intensive care unit doctor with extraordinary enthusiasm and dedication to his patients. Constantly smiling, he would never say no to any extra work or to covering an extra shift, and if the hospital was overloaded with patients, he would often volunteer to stay and work in his free time.
His energy and laughter were contagious. He was the kind of person who filled a room with his joy and compassion. Dr. Osmani was always willing to help others and never turned down someone in need. On the night of the airstrike, he refused to rest in the bunker with his colleagues, choosing instead to continue looking after patients in critical condition.
Mohibullah, 38, was a dedicated father and an experienced emergency room nurse who joined the Kunduz Trauma Center three years ago. He was the youngest of eight brothers, several of whom were also working in the medical field. He started working as a nurse in the outpatient department, but then decided to change to the emergency room.
A fast learner, Mohibullah was uncommonly patient with others. Whenever he had the time, he would study books or seek advice from his colleagues. He would always stay late if needed. He learned from many people, and many people learned from him.
Najibullah, a 27-year-old father, had been working for MSF since August 2011 as cleaner in the emergency room. He was well-liked by everyone, always talkative, happy, and kind. To further his knowledge, he was studying in his free time, and he frequently went beyond his cleaning duties and acted as a caretaker to patients in the ward.
Naseer Ahmad was a 23-year-old intensive care unit nurse who began working with MSF in June 2014. He was gentle, quiet, and very eager to learn. He was intending to start an English course as soon as he could.
His calm demeanor made him very well-suited to the role of ICU nurse. He loved having people around him with whom he could share his happiness and thoughts. In the ICU, he often wanted to take responsibility for the critical patients by himself; it was a sign of his great commitment to his job and the care of his patients. He always wanted to help the patients who didn’t have family to look after them.
Shafiqullah was 39 years old and had been working as a guard since February 2015. He was very quiet, but always had a big smile on his face. He treated everyone with kindness and was very committed to his job. Always friendly, he was much-loved by his colleagues, who miss him greatly. He leaves behind four children.
Tahseel, 35 years old, was a father and a much-loved, greatly valued member of the pharmacy team at the Kunduz Trauma Center. He was very hard-working; the pharmacy was well organized and he was prepared for any emergency in the hospital. He had a great sense of humor, and always wore a big smile on his face.
Proving how dedicated Tahseel was to helping others, he returned to the hospital in the last few days of his leave to assist the team when they needed him most. This commitment to others will always be remembered.
Zabiullah was 29 years old and married. He had been working as a guard in the hospital since February 2015. He was a poet and was working on Pashto language translations of several books. He was also writing a book about the famous Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan. While he started working with MSF less than a year ago, he had already made lots of friends due to his friendly and kind manner. Here is one of his poems:
تیر به شی وختونه خو یادونه به یی وی
جور به شی زخمونه خو داغونه به یی وی
Time will fly, but its memory will remain,
Wounds will heal, but its stain will remain.
Ziaurahman was a 23-year-old intensive care unit nurse, who had been working for MSF since December 2013. He was known to be a talented nurse with a sharp mind. He always joined the training sessions and showed an incredible eagerness to learn. He was very interested in everything and everybody and had a very caring nature. The patients he looked after were lucky to have him beside their bed. He was a good friend to all the staff and had a positive outlook on life.