Seeing five different governments and surviving two civil wars, Doctor Alberto Cairo has been head of the Red Cross Orthopaedic Centre in Kabul for the past 15 years. With a strong drive, humour and empathy, he has helped more than 50.000 mine victims walk again, and he has fought a difficult struggle to reintegrate them into the war-torn Afghan society. As Alberto meets Mehdi and Fatima, two new patients, all of his skills are strongly needed. Mehdi is an 8-year-old Hazara boy, living in one of the poorest areas in Kabul. He has lost both a leg and most of his family, and his is now left alone with his toothless and absent-minded grandfather. Fatima is an old wrinkled grandma from the remote Bamiyan valley. She has travelled all the way to Kabul to get a treatment, but she seems despondent from the beginning. It will take an extraordinary effort, both from Alberto and his Afghan staff, to put Mehdi and Fatima back on their feet.
Through the years Alberto has built up the Red Cross Orthopaedic Centre to be an inspiring workplace, with a highly skilled workforce. One of his most remarkable ideas has been only to hire disabled workers. All of his 150 employees – from the factory workers producing the prosthesis, to the physiotherapists carrying out the retraining of the patients – are therefore disabled. But they are excellent workers! Not only do they have an extremely high motivation, but being landmine survivors and disabled themselves, their empathy towards the new patients is tremendous. Knowing how difficult it is to find a job in Afghanistan, it’s no wonder that they speak of Alberto with great admiration and gratitude. However, they are also a bit afraid of him. Alberto has a big heart, but also a strong temper. If a physiotherapist fails to treat a patient properly, he can get so upset, that he almost strangles his own employee out of anger! Afterwards Alberto feels guilty, but usually he is too proud to apologize. He is Italian after all! Alberto’s strong emotions come from his deep commitment and love for his patients and employees. As he has been living alone in Kabul for the past 15 years, they have become his only family.