Tributes pour in for Frontline Club member Karen Woo, killed in Afghanistan trying to make a difference

August 8, 2010

Karen with Tortoise IMG_0771.jpg

There’s no more sad news for us at the Frontline than to hear that one of our own has died.

So it is with a heavy heart we read that the surgeon Dr Karen Woo was shot and killed in a remote area of northern Afghanistan on Friday (there are many news reports, such as this) along with nine colleagues. She was on a humanitarian trip as part of the Christian group International Assistance Mission. The group included six Americans, one German and two Afghans, who were travelling to Kabul after providing basic healthcare for locals in the mountainous Nuristan region. Karen was due to be married in two weeks.

Though working as part of a religious group, a statement released by Karen’s family makes clear that she was not inspired by religious or political agendas – just a desire to help others. The statement (via the BBC) says:

She wanted the world to know there was more than a war going on in Afghanistan, that people were not getting their basic needs met. She wanted the ordinary people of Afghanistan, especially the women and children, to be be able to receive healthcare.

She undertook this trek as a medical doctor, accompanying medical supplies and to provide treatment to people who lived in an extremely remote region who had little to no healthcare available.

Her commitment was to make whatever difference she could. She was a true hero, whilst scared she never let that prevent her from doing things she had to do.

Karen’s wrote her own blog, where she chronicled everday life in Afghanistan.

Tributes are still mounting up on Twitter and the website of Bridge Afghanistan, an aid organisation Karen co-founded. Dana Gornitzki recalled meeting her on a short training course at the Frontline three years ago, calling her "an inspiration" who "exuded such passion and talent".