Many residents of Injil district, Afghanistan’s ‘one-kidney village’ bear on their bodies ‘marks of love for their families.’

They look like some kind of stamp affirming belonginess. Some kind of proof that an important requirement has been fulfilled. The marks are a single stroke on the wall of the stomach, specifically the area housing the kidneys. They look clean cut and suggest that the surgeries were performed by skilled surgeons. Even though in the report of how residents of the Injil district in the western province of Herat in Afghanistan sell their kidneys for peanuts (no pun intended), no mention is made of the surgeons and their fees.

Residents of the ‘one-kidney village’ sell their kidneys primarily to buy basic family necessities. They use proceeds from the exercise to pay mounting debts and spend what is left on food. It is a drear situation but one nonetheless that underscores the importance of family. While the men and women who have gone under the knife may not have consciously expressed their love for their families before submitting to the procedure, the act in itself is seen in that light. Love is definitely a lot more of what is done than what is said. And it is more than the feelings. It is the act! The act that enables another act and more.

But these acts of love, backed by irrefutable evidence, are not intended as ends in themselves. They are meant to create awareness among the rest of us of the extreme extent some persons have gone to keep their families going. The information is intended to challenge reciprocal acts of love from those who see the need, including those whose actions created the conditions that allowed these surgeries to ‘thrive,’ to do the needful.

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