Close to people | Stories from Bethel

Important help in a foreign country

The two girls Hasina and Maryam, who were suffering from severe osteomyelitis and were at risk of having their legs amputated, can now return to their home country of Afghanistan in good health thanks to treatment at the Bethel Protestant Hospital (EvKB). The hospital has covered the costs of the 10-month treatment.

Hasina (6) and Maryam (8) romp around seemingly carefree in the entrance area of the paediatric surgery and paediatric and adolescent urology clinic at the Bethel Protestant Hospital (EvKB) as they say goodbye. They are joking around with the nursing staff, giving each other a warm hug and a smile. The two girls came to the Bethel Children's Centre in Germany for treatment ten months ago without their families. "Our whole team immediately took them to their hearts. We were partly a substitute for family, played with them, organised clothes and toys for them and taught them our language," explains Lukas Schmutzler, Head of Nursing at the Clinic for Paediatric Surgery and Paediatric and Adolescent Dermatology.

Hasina and Maryam were suffering from chronic bone inflammation in their thighs and shins, which was caused by MRSA germs. "Such severe infections can lead to septicaemia. In the worst case scenario, amputations would have been necessary to save the girls' lives," explains head physician Prof Winfried Barthlen. But the team at EvKB did everything they could to prevent this. "We operated on both girls twice each and gently removed inflamed tissue. They made a full recovery with additional antibiotic therapy and interdisciplinary collaboration," reports the attending senior physician Mohamad Al Nahar. "When the girls started playing again, when they were children again, we knew that they would be completely healthy again," recalls Prof Barthlen.

Hasina and Maryam's treatment was organised by the association "Kinder brauchen uns e. V.", which is committed to providing humanitarian aid for children in need from war and crisis zones and is in contact with a hospital in Kabul. "Children from the poorest sections of society are treated there," explains Mirwais Karzai, who comes from Afghanistan and works for the organisation on a voluntary basis. For example, the association takes care of organisational matters such as travel documents, flights, foster families for the time when the girls only had to go to hospital for examinations, and travel support.

The cooperation between the association and the EvKB has existed since 2017, and Hasina and Maryam have already treated a total of six children from Afghanistan. "We have been involved in humanitarian aid projects for years. We have our own fund for this, which covers the treatment costs," says Tanja Kirchner, Clinical Ethicist at EvKB. The EvKB has covered treatment costs totalling around 130,000 euros for Hasina and Maryam - making a statement. Since the Taliban came to power, women and girls in Afghanistan have had a particularly difficult time. Karzai knows that girls, for example, are only allowed to attend primary school and no further education. The girls' lives in their home country were also reflected during their time in Bielefeld. "One morning, Maryam and Hasina had disappeared from their beds. They had got up to wash their underwear in the sink and hang it up in their room," reports Lukas Schmutzler.

When asked how her time in Germany was, Maryam replies: "Good!" What did the girls like best? "The people who look after us," says Hasina. Are they looking forward to going home? "We're looking forward to seeing mum, dad and our siblings. But we would also like to stay," they say.

Text: Monika Dütmeyer | Photos: Mario Haase

This story simply told

Hasina and Maryam are two girls from Afghanistan who suffered from severe osteomyelitis. Thanks to treatment at the Bethel Protestant Hospital, they are now healthy. The treatment lasted ten months. They were lovingly cared for by the nursing staff and felt at ease during their stay.

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Bethel Children's Centre
Grenzweg 10
33617 Bielefeld

0521 772-705

To the website of the centre

Offers & services

The Children's Centre at the Evangelisches Klinikum Bethel (EvKB) covers the entire spectrum for young patients aged 0 to 18 years. Whether illness or injury, acute or chronic, physical (somatic) or psychiatric - the EvKB offers the right individual treatment concept for all medical requirements with its outpatient, day-care and inpatient services.

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