New York: A hundred rockets whizzing past
them a day was a "good day" for American medical aid worker
Tom Little and his family in war-torn Afghanistan.
Risking their lives to help disadvantaged Afghans became
almost a norm for Tom, a New York optometrist, who has been
working in Afghanistan for more than 30 years.
"We raised our three daughters through what was, at
times, just hell," his wife Libby Little said. "A hundred
rockets a day was a good day," she was quoted as saying by
Family members lived underground to avoid bombings, she
said. But violence prevailed on Thursday when Tom was shot
dead by the Taliban.
Tom was among 10 people killed by Taliban gunmen in
Badakhshan, a remote northeastern region of the country. He
was the team leader of the medical aid group.
The mostly foreign members of a medical team were
robbed and shot one-by-one on a remote road.
"He died right where he loved to be -- and that was
doing eye care in remote areas," Little said from her home in
New York. "Our daughters are missing him terribly. But I think
their feeling is, too, that this is a real passion that he
It was the remote areas of Afghanistan, Little said,
where the need for her husband`s services was often greatest.
Little said her husband had recently become involved
in a programme to eradicate preventable blindness by 2020.
"There`s a lot of preventable blindness in
Afghanistan -- blinding eye diseases that can be solved with
just very small work," she said.
Tom was heavily involved with training in optometry
overseas, "enabling Afghans to start picking up the work of
eye care, because it wasn`t there," his widow said.
His passion for helping Afghans ran deep, she said.
"He would come back to the States and get throw-away
optical equipment, then refurbished it, then would send it
over to set up a little optical manufacturing factory, so they
could make their own eyeglasses there."
When the couple married, they didn`t foresee devoting
much of their lives in Afghanistan.
Little said warfare in Afghanistan didn`t deter her
or her husband.
"If you`re in medicine, I think you feel you can`t
leave," she said. "If you`re propping up a hospital that`s the
only hospital, then you can`t leave when it gets bad."
Despite the circumstances, Little kept her composure
while reminiscing about her husband.
"We had 40 wonderful years together -- of serving
together, all those years, doing what we thought we should do.
And that`s enough for a life."