Art-loving Afghan girl given prosthetic arm returns to U.S. after threats (w/ gallery)

Published: June 19, 2014


Picture 1 of 10

Shah Bibi Tarakhail, a six-year-old Afghan girl whose love of painting won the hearts of U.S. doctors who fitted her with a prosthetic, is tickled by her host mother, Ann Drummond, at Shriners Hospital for Children on Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

JOHN ROGERS
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES — When the art-loving little girl from Afghanistan left Los Angeles last April, her American friends sent her away with brushes, an iPad filled with photo souvenirs and a head full of ideas for painting pretty pictures like the one she created with the new prosthetic arm they had just given her.

But while word of the colorful abstract expressionist work Shah Bibi Tarakhail had painted won the 6-year-old widespread praise and even an invitation to visit the Picasso Museum in Spain, it also aroused the wrath of the Taliban.

Word quickly spread to her family that she would be killed for adopting Western ways, and the family fled its small home on the Pakistani border.

On Thursday, with just the clothes on her back and a small bag containing a pink party dress and other items, Shah Bibi returned to Los Angeles. While her family remains in hiding somewhere in the Afghan-Pakistan region, the non-profit group Children of War is placing her with a host family for the next several months. Eventually the group hopes to win her political asylum in the United States.

“When she went back, the minute she got there she became a target,” said Dr. Arsalan Darmal, a Newport Beach psychologist who treated her during her earlier U.S. visit and has remained in touch with her family.

“If she stayed,” added Darmal, who helped get her out, “she knew she was going to be killed.”

Although Children of War has rescued more than 100 youngsters, including many with grievous war injuries like Shah Bibi’s, her case quickly gained international attention. It was an outpouring of admiration fueled both by her plucky if shy personality and her love of art.

She’d lost her right eye and most of her right arm last summer when she mistook a discarded grenade outside her home for a rock, and it exploded, ripping her body with shrapnel and killing her brother. But it couldn’t kill her zest for life.

As soon as she learned how to use the prosthetic arm doctors at Shriners Hospital For Children fitted her with, she began drawing. Children of War, learning of her interest, arranged a painting lesson with prominent abstract expressionist Davyd Whaley, who said he was astounded by her skill at matching colours.

“She kind of has a facility for it if she wants to pursue it,” he told The Associated Press.

After Galerie Michael in Beverly Hills showed her work around, she received the invitation from Spain.

Meanwhile, she and her family had gone into hiding.

She arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday after a perilous three-day bus ride that took her and her father to Kabul from Pakistan days after the father had called Children of War to appeal for help.

“Her father said, ‘I can’t care for her anymore and it’s at a point where she needs to be out of here sooner rather than later,”‘ said the group’s executive director, Amel Najjar.

He told Children of War he had placed Shah Bibi in a Pakistani hospital for several days, partly to have her treated for stress and depression and also just to keep her safe.

In Los Angeles, she had a joyful reunion with several of the people at Shriner’s Hospital who had previously helped her. In the weeks ahead, doctors will fit her with a prosthetic eye and work on removing the scars the shrapnel from the grenade left on her body.

“You remember me?” occupational therapist Vivian Yip asked as Shah Bibi rushed to embrace her.

Soon Yip had her demonstrating her skill with the prosthetic by stringing yarn through children’s blocks, then cutting poster paper into a perfect circle and drawing a happy face on it.

“Thank you,” she said in English, cocking her head and smiling sheepishly when someone praised her work.

01:57ET 20-06-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

TK

Wounded teen drives himself to Surrey hospital after being shot multiple times

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI A 17-year-old male drove himself to hospital in Surrey after being shot multiple times in Newton on Sunday night, according to…
Continue Reading »

DEVGAN

Bollywood film that was to shoot in Alberta ‘indefinitely postponed’

ERIC VOLMERS CALGARY HERALD Don’t brush up your Bollywood dance moves yet, Alberta. Shivay, a Hindi film that was set to start filming in the Rocky Mountains…
Continue Reading »

File photo: The new Surrey City Hall in Surrey, B.C., December 29, 2014. Arlen Redekop/PNG

Surrey named one of top seven most intelligent communities in the world

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — The City of Surrey has been named one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of 2015 by New York-based think…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

TK

Wounded teen drives himself to Surrey hospital after being shot multiple times

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI A 17-year-old male drove himself to hospital in Surrey after being shot multiple times in Newton on Sunday night, according to…
Continue Reading »

DEVGAN

Bollywood film that was to shoot in Alberta ‘indefinitely postponed’

ERIC VOLMERS CALGARY HERALD Don’t brush up your Bollywood dance moves yet, Alberta. Shivay, a Hindi film that was set to start filming in the Rocky Mountains…
Continue Reading »

File photo: The new Surrey City Hall in Surrey, B.C., December 29, 2014. Arlen Redekop/PNG

Surrey named one of top seven most intelligent communities in the world

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — The City of Surrey has been named one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of 2015 by New York-based think…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver-BC

Raise your hand, send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

miss canada

Miss Universe Canada scores big buzz online with outlandish hockey costume (w/ photos)

THE CANADIAN PRESS MIAMI — Chanel Beckenlehner is hoping to take home the crown at the Miss Universe pageant, but win or lose, she’s scored…
Continue Reading »

A herd of wild elephants from the nearby Amsung reserve forest roam in a paddy field in search of food, in Hajong Bori village, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Thursday, March 22, 2007. AP Photo/ Anupam Nath

Tourists trampled to death in India after flash of camera sends elephant in ‘mad frenzy’

VANCOUVER DESI An Indian couple has been trampled to death and a tour guide injured after the flash of a camera sent an elephant in…
Continue Reading »

shiamak

Bollywood dance guru Shiamak Davar gets Canadian dignitaries grooving with a dance lesson

VANCOUVER DESI A number of Canadian dignitaries got their very own personal dance lesson from the guru of Bollywood dance himself, Shiamak Davar, while attending…
Continue Reading »

FILE PHOTO: A nine-year-old Palestinian girl  suffering from scoliosis sits as her mother shows her back x-ray as she is treated by U.S. pediatric orthopedic surgeon Hugh Watts (L) February 18, 2004 at Al-Quds hospital, in Gaza City. Abid Katib/Getty Images

Seven-year-old Scoliosis patient in Western India cured by revolutionary surgery

IANS Mumbai  – A seven-year-old girl in Mumbai suffering from Scoliosis is the first in Western India to successfully undergo a new and revolutionary procedure…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Indian Bollywood film actress Jacqueline Fernandez poses during the launch of Scholl's latest innovation in foot care in Mumbai on January 22, 2015. AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images

Do you want to travel to Dubai with Jacqueline Fernandez?

DIBYOJYOTI BAKSI HINDUSTAN TIMES Several actors nowadays are known to take an active interest in the promotion strategies of their films. Another actor, who has…
Continue Reading »

DEVGAN

Hindi superstar Ajay Devgan to shoot parts of Bollywood blockbuster in Alberta

ERIC VOLMERS CALGARY HERALD A highly anticipated Bollywood film will be using the snowy mountains of Alberta as a backdrop for a three-month shoot. Shivay, scheduled to begin shooting…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar is pictured here in a still from his latest espionage thriller, Baby. The movie has been banned in Pakistan. HANDOUT.

Akshay Kumar’s latest film Baby banned in Pakistan

HINDUSTAN TIMES Akshay Kumar’s espionage thriller Baby, which centres around an Indian spy’s mission to capture a terrorist from a West Asian nation, has been…
Continue Reading »