Around a year ago, Naik Nazeer Ahmed lost both his legs in an improvised explosive device blast in Kurram Agency. For the past eight months, he has been convalescing at the Armed Forces Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFIRM) in Rawalpindi, waiting for prosthetic legs to help him walk again.
But neither trauma nor his disability prevented him from bravely getting off his wheelchair on Thursday to plant an Alstonia sapling in an empty lot near the hospital’s administration block in connection with Earth Day.
Ahmed was one of around two dozen AFIRM patients who planted saplings. Most AFIRM patients are soldiers either recovering from spinal cord injuries, which have impacted the function of their lower limbs or are amputees. Some of the soldiers were injured during security operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. The Earth Day network has chosen “Face of Climate Change” as the theme of Earth Day 2013. This year marks its 43rd anniversary. The theme is an attempt to not only identify the people, animals and places directly affected by climate change but also highlight people and communities stepping up to fix environmental problems and support sustainable living.
According to Abdul Rehman, a gardener at AFIRM, Alstonia trees are evergreen and grow up in an umbrella-like shape that provides shade. AFIRM Commandant Maj. Gen. Akhtar Waheed was supposed to plant a tree but he could not participate in the event.
The tree plantation was organised by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2013.