Report By: Nina Rai
Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan,
10 May, 2012
In a remarkable turn of fortune a child beggar is now being showered with hundreds of pounds, land and grants to study, all due to a sheer stroke of luck of having a birthmark below his left arm that looks uncannily like the map of Afghanistan.
The nine-year-old beggar boy Gran Agha has become famous in his home town of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province in Afghanistan after the birth blotch on his body was first publicized in April, 2012.
Before that for years Gran’s family had been living in absolute penury. They were not in a position to even send him to school. The young lad had to eke out a living by begging at a local car lot. He would burn wild seeds which locals believe helps in warding off evil from newly bought vehicles.
Later, speaking to the local media, the former nine-year-old beggar claimed that before the discovery of his birthmark, his father Sher Agha, would beat him if he didn’t bring home at least £2.50 every day. However, since the Afghan-like birthmark was found on his body, the Agha family has been inundated with offers of help from patriotic well-wishers.
Donations for the young lad have been lead by local traders and businessmen. Helmand’s Chamber of Commerce cleared a grant of £900 towards the family so that Gran can give up begging. In addition the Afghan lad was granted a monthly donation which would go towards his school expenses till he completed his schooling.
Chairman of the Chamber, Ali Ahmad Naseri informs: "Every member of his (Gran’s) family will be paid 5,000 Afghani (£62 pounds) each month till the time this boy gets to higher education." Further he adds: “The family had also been given a plot of land to build a house.”
Meanwhile, with regard to how the amazing birth-mark discovery was made, Daud Ahmadi, spokesman for the Helmand governor gave the following details. He said that it was the traders at a second hand car lot where Gran used to beg, who first noticed the dark pink blotch.
In the beginning thinking it was muck, they would ask the boy to wash himself because he was so filthy, but later the traders realized it was not. The boy seems to have had the mark probably since he was born but he had not noticed the resemblance previously.
Ahmadi reveals: "The businessmen saw it looked like a map of Afghanistan and they have decided to give him money so he can go to school. The governor has rung him to congratulate him."
If seen closely the birthmark below Gran’s left side seems to include the Wakhan Corridor, extending right into his armpit. It may be noted this corridor is Afghanistan's most unique cartographical feature.
The corridor akin to a finger in north eastern Afghanistan is a remnant of the nineteenth century Great Game when colonial agreements left it as a bulwark separating Russian Central Asia from British-ruled India.
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