US & World

Doctor Killed In Afghanistan Was Driven To Stay

Eye doctor from upstate New York didn't want to leave his friends and patients in Afghanistan behind even when life there was dangerous.

A follow-up to our post from yesterday about eye doctor Tom Little and other aid workers who were murdered in Afghanistan sometime in the past few days:

NPR's Michael Sullivan profiled Little for Morning Edition in 2003. As Lynn Neary said in the introduction to Michael's report, Little was among a small number of Americans who had been in Afghanistan "for decades working with international aid agencies and other non-governmental organizations. They're dedicated to making life better for the Afghan people: clean water, decent health care."

We'll post the full audio of Michael's report here:

But it's also worth zeroing in on one brief section of the report. It's Little talking about why he, his wife and their three daughters stayed in Afghanistan for most of the past 30 years despite threats to their lives.

"We've come ... to identify in some small sense with the Afghan people," Little says, "and for us ... just to leave when they are not able to leave -- just because we're afraid -- it seemed dishonest and shameful almost":

Ten people in all were executed as they returned to Kabul from a medical aid mission in northeastern Afghanistan. Six were Americans, one was German, another was British and two were Afghans. The Taliban has claimed responsibility. But it's also possible that robbery was the motive.

The Denver Post today fills in some of the biographical details of 51-year-old Durango, Colo., dentist Tom Grams, who was among the victims. It writes that "friends and family on Sunday described slain (Grams) as a rare individual who found a way to combine his two great passions: helping others and living an adventurous life in far-flung reaches of the globe."

The Associated Press reports that 32-year-old Cheryl Beckett of Knoxville, Tenn., had been in Afghanistan for six years and "specialized in nutritional gardening and mother-child health."

Watch for more stories about the work the victims were doing in coming days.

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