Belfast Telegraph

Oscar nod shines light on unsung heroes

The Oscars ceremony each year is a showbusiness spectacular, with some of the world's finest film-makers vying for the top honours. There is always a sense of occasion, of achievement and of glitzy melodrama all rolled into one, but at times there are also heart-warming films about the human spirit.

Such a production tipped for an Oscar is Saving Face, which is nominated in the Best Documentary Short category. It tells the story of the surgeon Dr Mohammad Jawad whose pioneering work in Pakistan is helping women who are the victims of acid attacks, and thus literally helping to save their face.

It is highly-skilled work, and each person involved has a deeply personal story, not least Dr Jawad himself.

He has told this newspaper of his experiences in Belfast during some of the worst years of the troubles, and how he learned so much from treating the victims.

Dr Jawad also learned a great deal from working with other highly-skilled, and often unsung, medical experts in Belfast, and he was also inspired by the courage and vision of so many people with terrible injuries.

He recalled the courage of a young police officer who was so badly injured in an explosion that his legs had to be amputated. Dr Jawad noted that the young man "was physically destroyed but spiritually intact".

His case is a reminder of the courage of the victims of violence and their families in Northern Ireland over so many years, and also of the dedication of the medical, nursing and ancillary staff who did their utmost to help them. Dr Jawad has used his experience in Northern Ireland to help women in Pakistan who are badly injured in acid attacks, and he is also conducting a campaign against this widespread and evil practice.

Many people here and elsewhere hope that the film about Dr Jawad will win an Oscar tomorrow night, but whether he is successful or not, he has already shown remarkable skill and qualities which are worthy of the highest praise.

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