The Story of Abdul Rashid: Tumors, Farming, and Optimism

Abdul Rashid is fifty-five years old male living in a village in the vicinity of Kakan school. He participated in our Aging and Dementia work lead by the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee with the support of Washington University in St. Louis. The study was conducted with older adults above 50 years old in 22 schools across Badakhshan province. The majority of the participants, including Mr. Rashid, were happy to share about the importance of improving well being and quality of life. For older adults who suffer from different challenges living in remote and hard-to-reach areas in Afghanistan with limited or no access to social and health services for older adults well being and quality of life is very important. 

Group Model Building in Kakan School

Abdul Rashid explained, “I live in the village and am is mostly engaged with farming and cultivation” which supplies his whole family with crops harvested from their field. The most common types of food the family eats includes ishkana (a local food prepared using onion, tomato paste, oil, water, and potato), rice, bean, eggs, and sometimes chicken. 

Mr. Rashid explained  he was not feeling well and always had headaches and felt pains in other parts of his body. He told me, “I have suffered from a tumor on my head in the past”. He has successfully undergone surgery to remove it. Mr. Rashid participated in the Group Model Building activity about elders’ quality of life and expressed his appreciation of the team for conducting this workshop on this important topic. He said added that all people want to experience and have good life, especially in our country which has suffered from three decades of war. The older adults here in our village even don’t have access to a health center. 

When he was asked for his opinion about well-being and quality of life, he said it is to have access to health services, education for children, and living happily with family. As the team conducted the community workshop including a focus group discussion, variable elicitation, creation of a connection circle and finding action ideas, he was very thoughtful contributing many interesting variables like family income, elders physical health status, respect for elders, and quality diet as well proposed some good action ideas like NGOs or government provision of community awareness about hygiene and health as well elders’ positive attitude toward life. 

At the end of the workshop he came to a conclusion and said, “I have learned we should care about our health, try to do some hobbies or work in the field based on our ability, feel happy by being content with what Allah has given us, and be optimistic and hopeful for good things to happen in our life”. He said getting older doesn’t mean becoming weak in life. He reinforced that as older adults we should have positive attitudes toward life like thinking good things will happen to us in life, have good relationships with other adults in the community, and always join in public ceremonies which make us feel happy. He mentioned, “When other older adults share their life stories and their experiences during ceremonies in the village, how they have overcome challenges in life, it gives me strength to be hopeful in my life’. Despite experiencing lots of challenges, he is an optimistic person. He is satisfied with the blessings of Allah and what is bestowed to him. 

Mr. Rashid requested the team continues to conduct similar workshops and trainings for older adults because it is a necessary and important thing to improve the lives of older adults.

Written by Shabir Ayubi
Edited by Mara McKown