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KASH Gabriele Torsello
On 30 January 2008, an Italian military plane carrying a tiny four-year-old girl will leave the Afghan capital Kabul headed towards Ciampino airport in Rome. The young passenger is Shabana, who suffers from a mysterious neurofibroma, a tumor, that if left unchecked causes severe nerve damage and, ultimately, death. At nine months Shabana underwent a very delicate surgical operation at the hands of Afghan doctors. Now, she will undergo her second operation, in Rome, which will bring together Western and Afghan surgeons.
Shabanaâ€™s story so far, including her first operation in Kabul, results from the work of Italian photojournalist Kash Gabriele Torsello, who became known to the international press in October 2006 as he was kidnapped and detained in Afghanistan. Since his release, Kash has been working to develop a program of medical and cultural exchanges between Afghanistan and Europe. Shabanaâ€™s next operation in Rome represents the beginning of direct collaborations between Italian and Afghan hospitals, and is the second phase in the project Staramasceâ€™ Salento Negroamaro 2007, borne from the cooperation between the photojournalist and Lecce Province.
Shabanaâ€™s case has been followed by European and Afghan experts alike, the little girlâ€™s illness is a peculiar kind of tumor that affects 10% of Afghan children. The surgery will be lead by Doctor Fabio Abenavoli, President of Smile Train Italia, who after visiting Shabana in Kabul in 2007 decided to organize her hospitalization at the Fatebenefratelli San Pietro hospital in Rome. The ultimate aim is to enable Afghan doctors to cure many other Shabanas in Afghanistan, Inshaâ€™ Allah â€“ God willing
Shabana will be present at the Press Conference, together with her father and the medical team that has been following her developments. Her convalescence will be spent in the Salento region (Lecce) at the Fondazione Daniela e Paola, a family home for children created in memory of the two sisters from Casarano who were tragically killed in a terrorist attack in July 2005 in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt.