Afghan boy gets second chance to see

(CBS News) MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Eight months ago, riding a bike would have been impossible for six-year-old Sajad, one of the youngest victims of the war in Afghanistan. The Afghan boy lost his sight and was seriously wounded when a bomb went off next to his home. An American family is now helping him get his life back.

Six-year-old Sajad was badly injured in Afghanistan when a bomb went off next to his home.
Six-year-old Sajad was badly injured in Afghanistan when a bomb went off next to his home.
CBS News

"He said him and his sister and brother went to the hospital, but only he came back," said Muntazir Somji.

Since January, Sajad has been staying with Somji and his family in their Mooresville, N.C., home.

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Sajad was blinded by shards of glass that pierced his eyes and face. His desperate father took him to Kabul, where he'd heard an American organization called Solace for the Children could provide medical help.

Patsy Wilson was there when Sajad arrived.

"He was in such pain and his father was so distraught, as any father would be," said Wilson.

Wilson said Sajad's father asked her, "Please help my son."

Sajad after surgery to repair his eyesight.
Sajad after surgery to repair his eyesight.
CBS News

Wilson arranged for surgeons in the U.S. to operate on Sajad. The Somjis agreed to have the boy stay with them through his recovery.

"He had to feel the house, he had to find where he was going," Somji said. "Sometimes he'd be amazed. You knew he couldn't see, but he could run around the house."

Soon after his arrival, Sajad underwent eye surgery to restore his sight.

"He came out and saw the mirror, and suddenly I saw him, he kind of was shocked and he immediately said, 'Two Sajads,' so at that time, I knew that he had some vision now," said Somji. "So my first thought was we can tell his parents, that something's better."

Slowly, Sajad began to rediscover the world around him.

Muntazir Somji and Sajad
Muntazir Somji and Sajad
CBS News

"I remember the first time he saw a flower and he was excited because he could tell me, 'That's yellow and that's red,' and I saw him progress that way. It was exciting," said Somji.

He progressed so well that this summer, he's attending camp, swimming and playing sports.

A third surgery is scheduled for this month.

He will likely go home to Afghanistan in October.

"It will take a lot of adjustment when he's gone. It will be quieter. Constantly someone not calling me," said Somji. "I will miss it. I will definitely miss it."

The departure will be bittersweet, but Sajad will leave having seen how love from strangers can change a life.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.