Seven-Year-Old Amputee Artist Forced to Flee Afghanistan

Shah Bibi Tarakhail paints using her prosethetic arm at Galerie Michael, Beverly Hills. Photo: Damian Dovarganes, courtesy the Associated Press.
Shah Bibi Tarakhail paints using her prosethetic arm at Galerie Michael, Beverly Hills. Photo: Damian Dovarganes, courtesy the Associated Press.

When seven-year-old Shah Bibi Tarakhail lost her arm and her brother in a grenade explosion in her native Afghanistan, she became an inspiration to others with her colorful Abstract Expressionist-inspired artworks, painted with the prosthetic arm she received from the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the positive attention she received here in the States made her a target for the Taliban, and she has been forced to flee back to America, reports the Associated Press.

Tarakhail escaped Afghanistan with the help of Children of War, the organization that first arranged for her to be treated for free at an American hospital. During her initial visit, she was fitted with a prosthetic arm and soon began drawing. Hoping to further foster the young girl’s talent, Children of War arranged for Tarakhail to meet with local artist Davyd Whaley at Beverley Hills’s Galerie Michael.

“She kind of has a facility for it if she wants to pursue it,” an impressed Whaley told the Associated Press (as quoted by the Mail Online), noting her strong sense of color.

Word of Tarakhail’s artistic prowess spread, and she was even invited to visit the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Upon her return to Afghanistan, however, Tarakhail and her family began receiving threats from members of the Taliban who resented the girl for embracing Western ways during her stay overseas.

“If she stayed,” said Arsalan Darmal, her Newport Beach psychologist, “she knew she was going to be killed.” Darmal helped make arrangements for her three-day journey by bus from Kabul to Pakistan, and flight back to America.

Children of War hopes to gain permanent political asylum for Tarakhail. The staff at Shriner’s are working to outfit her with a prosthetic eye and to help remove scar tissue left from the grenade explosion.


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