Death of a doctor who turned ‘deserts into gardens’

Death of a doctor who turned ‘deserts into gardens’

Few other foreign nationals have perhaps received as much love and admiration from the Afghans as Tetsu Nakamura, a Japanese doctor who dedicated his life to improving healthcare, water availability and agriculture in Afghanistan over the last four decades. Affectionately referred to as Kaka Murad, the 73-year-old was killed, along with five others, by armed gunmen in the eastern city of Jalalabad early this month.

Nakamura’s death evoked an outpour of grief from Afghans across the country, with candlelight vigils held in many cities and activists painting his murals on the walls of Kabul and Jalalabad city, the doctor’s adopted hometown. Civil society activists have demanded justice for the man they saw as one of their own. “It is a very innocent story of a man who worked for Afghanistan, his dedication was visible in the results he achieved in changing the eastern Afghanistan, literally changing deserts to gardens, and perhaps that is why so many Afghans feel affected by his death,” said Omaid Sharifi, founder of ArtLords, an arts collective that painted the murals.

Among Nakamura’s achievements is the construction of a Japanese canal over the Kunar River that irrigated close to 40,000 acres of desert land in the eastern province. The Ramon Magsaysay awardee also undertook water projects, including the building of 11 dams and 1,500 wells that impacted over 6,50,000 Afghans living in Nangarhar province. He was awarded the Afghan citizenship in October to honour his contributions to the conflict-ridden country. “Dr. Nakumra was a man who did a lot for the poor Afghans than some of our own leaders and politicians; that’s why the entire nation was pained over his murder,” said Idrees Stanikzai, a political activist of a movement called Youth Trend in Kabul.

Read full report on The Hindu