Afghan girl amputated by grenade returns to U.S. after death threats
Shah Bibi Tarakhail, who became internationally known for painting after her grenade injuries, has returned to the U.S. after facing death threats in Afghanistan.
The seven-year-old was first in the United States late last year to be fit for a prosthesis on her right arm, which she lost in an explosion. When she returned to her home country in April, she and her father had to go into hiding because of threats against their lives. On Thursday, she came back to Los Angeles.
In 2013, Shah Bibi's village near the Pakistani border was frequently the site of firefights between the Taliban and the U.S. One morning, she was playing with her brother and picked up what she thought was a rock. When she threw it to the ground, the grenade blast killed her brother, and Shah Bibi lost her right eye and arm.
The Children of War Foundation brought her to the United States to receive free treatment at Shriners Hospital for Children Los Angeles and, weeks later, Shah Bibi began painting with her prosthesis. She told reporters that it was her favorite activity in Afghanistan.
The war victim's story received international attention, including anecdotes about her affinity for Minnie Mouse shoes, the song "Let it Go" from the Disney movie "Frozen," and her increasing knowledge of English.
Word of her exposure to Western culture made its way back to Afghanistan, and she and her father had to leave the village and the rest of their family. They reached out to the Children of War Foundation once again.
"Her father called us a week ago, said she'd been in a hospital near the Pakistani border and her life was in danger," Foundation Executive Director Amel Najjar told the Associated Press. "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.'"
Shah Bibi was granted a six-month visa and will live with a host family. The Foundation is considering applying for permanent residence status for her as a political refugee. She will receive a prosthetic eye, receive surgery for her facial scars, and enroll in school in the fall.
She has also been offered art lessons and a visit to Spain's Picasso Museum.