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The Preemptive Love Manifesto

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

How do you respond when you see violence?

We know how hard it is to watch burning places on our computer screens, to hear of school shootings down the street, or see our family members fighting and not know what to do.

How do we react without being violent or passive ourselves?

Preemptive love is our response. It is an active love. It’s a love that jumps heart first into situations of conflict and creates reconciliation, healing, and hope.

Take two minutes to watch this video, then share it with your friends.

Together, we can remake the world around us.

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

A New Look For Our Office—So When Are You Coming To Visit?

May 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

We just finished cleaning up and redecorating our office here in Iraq.

It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint, some new pictures, and a Bonsai tree can do to improve the look of a place. Sometimes the instability and frustrations of this part of the world leave us wondering whether or not we’ll actually be able to keep living here, and that uncertainty can make it hard to ‘dig in.’

So we see the paint and the pictures as an excuse to dig in and recommit to doing life here.

The next time you’re in town you should come visit—baklava and tea on us!

A collage showing our the new look of our office.

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

At Home With Hussain—A Followthrough Checkup

January 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

People sometimes ask us, “So, what happens to these kids after surgery?”

It’s a great question, but it isn’t easily answered. Thanks to you and our partners, we’re now providing exponentially more surgeries than we did during our early years. What once was 20 children per year is now 20 children per mission—over 300 children this year alone!

With that kind of volume, it’s difficult to keep up with all the families we help. But we still work to follow up with as many as we can; to make sure they don’t slip through the cracks. But the nature of that Followthrough has changed. Now we spend time encouraging local doctors to follow up with families, reminding them to call families for post-operative check-ups.

And, due to safety concerns, it’s often easier for families to come see us at the hospital (the last thing we want is to disrespect our hosts!).

Going cowboy and riding a taxi into downtown Fallujah to visit a family is not a good way to maintain relationships with partners and friends of the program.

One misstep could lead to someone getting hurt, the program getting canceled, and children not getting their hearts fixed—not something we’re willing to risk.

So we’re tip-toeing into these home visits with care, and Hussain was our first. Stay tuned for (hopefully) many more to come!

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

5 Children You Helped Save In 2012

January 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

My favorite thing about January?

It’s the only month when it just feels right to look back and to plan ahead. A backward glance helps us remember what God has done during the previous year and all that we’ve learned, while a look forward offers hope for betterment and an opportunity to grow.

And who doesn’t love a clean slate—an opportunity to jumpstart things in a new direction? I’m here to tell you, though, that you did some pretty fantastic stuff last year. If your friend is bragging about their new job or some kind of shiny new gadget, please read this part out loud: “I helped save lives last year.”

Is there someone near you right now? Grab their sleeve and say it again, “I helped save lives last year.”

In 2012, you guys raised money, hosted parties, and spread the word on behalf of Iraqi children. There are children alive now who would not be—you’re heroes!

So—in case you didn’t get to meet them all—here are a few of the children you helped save in 2012:

1) Hussain—I don’t know who came up with the “don’t play favorites with kids” rule, but they obviously haven’t met this boy. I’ve adored him since our first game of “air soccer,” and the first thing I try to plan when we return to Najaf is try to plan a visit to see him and his family. He’s a sweet, sweet child and—thanks to you and the Coalition—he is now home and fully alive. Read his whole story here.

2) Yousef—our 2012 vote for the Most Pinchable Cheeks Award, Yousef received a heart operation at our groundbreaking Remedy Mission X in Fallujah. If you haven’t seen some of his adorable facial expressions yet, do yourself a favor.

3) Zahraa—Sweet, solemn Zahraa. I tracked with her from beginning to end, right up until she carried her dollies into the hospital elevator and went home. Click here to watch our video shorts of her trip through the hospital.

4) Hassin—don’t be fooled by his drooping eye lids and ridiculous eye-lashes, Hassin is sneaky. When the doctors told him he couldn’t eat or drink anything before his surgery, he snuck past his family, out of his hospital room, and down 6 flights of stairs to demand that the snack vendor give him food. His parents found him pounding his fists and declaring, “I need to eat or I’ll die!” I’m happy to report that, after his surgery, he snacked to his healthy heart’s content. See more of Hassin here.

5) Maddy—the 300th child you’ve helped us save, this little boy is sunshine incarnate. I still stand by my claim that he’s the smiliest, most pleasant little boy you’ll ever meet. If you missed the excitement of his landmark surgery, check it out here (the video was especially fun to make!).

2012 was pretty amazing, and 2013 is looking even better. Stick with us as things get started—our 15th surgical mission is coming up in Fallujah!

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

This Month, Celebrate The 300th Child You’ve Impacted!

December 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A photo collage showing Hussain, Deeya, Nivar, and Kadeeja - 4 of our most well-known children.
Amazed. Inspired. Grateful. That’s how your generosity makes us feel.

Don’t believe me? Just ask the hundreds of children you’ve impacted these past 5 years—like Nivar, Kadeeja, Deeya, and Hussain. Better yet, ask their parents, their school teachers, or their brothers and sisters.

It’s true—in 2012 you’ve helped us save more children in more places than ever before by bringing our Remedy Missions to 5 different cities across Iraq. You’ve helped us launch Remedy Fellowship, the #1 surgical training program in Iraq, providing thousands of hours of essential training for Iraq’s doctors. You’ve helped us save children who were on the brink of death and others who were diagnosed as “untreatable.”

These are your accomplishments. These are real children that you helped save.

And it’s those accomplishments that are leading us to our 300th operation this December!

It’s going to be a beautiful month in Iraq; not just because of what you’ve already done but because of what we have the opportunity to do next.

This Christmas, we’re celebrating the 300 total operations we’ve provided by saving another 300 lives!

Next year we will have the opportunity to double our total surgeries, but we need your help this month to make it happen!

So, to celebrate the exponential ways in which you're saving lives, we're asking for your help to provide the lifesaving sutures, heart patches, and medicines that we need to save the next 300 children.

Please click here to provide these children with the lifesaving heart patches and medicine they need.

Will you act today and help us save hundreds more in the coming months? Just click here now.

P.S. – Our required medical supplies range from as little as $9 to $1,000. And you can be sure your gift makes a difference, because each gift can save a life! They're the perfect way to honor a loved one, friend, or co-worker this Christmas!

Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalInternational Children's Heart Foundation

Jeremy Courtney lives and loves in Iraq as a co-founder and Executive Director of the Preemptive Love Coalition. He's also the father of two spectacular children, and married to the lovely Jessica Courtney. When not absorbed in PLC work he can be found writing songs and singing about hope and future. Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @JCourt.

A Check-Up On Hussain—See How He’s Doing!

October 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

We were getting a little worried.

Remedy Mission XII was almost over, but we still hadn't seen Hussain.

We call children from previous missions back to the hospital for a post-operative echo screening, but Hussain’s father wasn’t answering his phone. Having grown especially close to them, we wanted a chance to check in on Hussain and his family. Then, on the last day, they finally arrived!

Hussain's father bought him a new shirt and gave him a comb for the occasion, and it made him look so grown up.

Just a few minutes after exchanging hugs, Hussain was removing his fancy new shirt so the doctor could check on his heart.

He climbed up on the table and laid down automatically; this wasn't his first echo screening.

And—I'm excited to report—that it will be his last echo screening for quite awhile because his heart is doing well!

The doctor gave him one of the simplest, most beautiful orders: "Go home and live a normal life."

And that gift of normalcy came from you—you helped send him back to school and back into games with his friends. Thanks to you, his heart is healthy. It's normal.

So, on behalf of Hussain's father and mother: thank you for saving him!

A photo of Hussain waiting with his daddy for his post-op heart screening in Najaf, Iraq.

P.S.-Did you miss any of Hussain's story? See photos, family interviews, and footage of the surgery all HERE!

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

VIDEO: Update From The Operating Room— “Thank You!”

September 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

This is our final O.R. update for Remedy Mission XI in Najaf, and we can’t think of a better time to thank you for the lives you’ve helped save than right now! You made this a happy ending.

You gave money that bought plane tickets that led to training that saved lives and led to Iraqi doctors saying things like “I never imagined I would be learning to operate like this!”

So thank you!

Also, please allow us to use this space to thank our partners at Living Light International for their role in setting up this mission with the Ministry of Health and the provincial government of Najaf. We could not do this without their expertise and their devotion to the cause and their belief in the vision toward which we are moving. Also, we are grateful to the International Children’s Heart Foundation and their cadre of staff and volunteers from Memphis to Melbourne. None of the staff at PLC have any of the medical skills necessary to save these sweet children. Our hopes and our vision for the future of Iraq would be dead in the water without Dr. Novick and ICHF.

In the video, we also share a bit about Hussain and his progress as well as info on our fast-approaching Remedy Mission XII, where we’ll introduce you to even more amazing children in need of lifesaving heart surgery. You can donate below to partner with us further, and keep reading here on the blog—the best is yet to come.

Help us go back to Najaf to save more lives by donating below!





Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalInternational Children's Heart Foundation

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

A Peek Inside The O.R.—Watch Hussain’s Six Hour Surgery In Two Minutes!

September 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever wondered what a surgery actually looks like? Have you ever wanted to peek into the O.R. to see what it takes to save a child’s life?

Considering how much you’ve donated, started your own fundraisers, and cheered kids on over the past few years, I’d say you deserve a glimpse of all that you’re making possible.

So I got permission from the local surgeons to set my camera up outside the operating theatre—for 7 hours! Little Hussain’s operation had a few twists and turns, but sitting outside that door watching it all unfold was well worth it, and now you can do the same. Click the video above (or click here) to watch the lifesaving surgery you gave to Hussain!

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Would you like to make more surgeries like this possible? We’re going back to this same operating room in just a couple weeks, and we need your help saving more lives. Click here to donate directly, or go start your own fundraiser here—we love doing this alongside you!

Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalInternational Children's Heart Foundation

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

Hussain Made It Through Surgery!

September 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A photo of Hussain and his father in the ICU in Najaf, Iraq.
He made it!

The operation went well. Other than that, there isn’t much to say. Now it’s just rest-time in the ICU.

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

Hussain Is Headed To Surgery!

September 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A photo of a little Iraqi boy named Hussain with his father in an operating room in Najaf, Iraq.
As they were waiting for surgery, I snagged Hussain and his dad for a quick photo shoot in the adjacent operating room. His father is nervous—he keeps grabbing his son and squeezing him. Hussain is normally too hyper to be held down, but he just sat there and let his dad hold him. I’m sure he could tell something was about to happen.

For me, this is the most unsettling time of the entire surgical process. It’s not while they’re in the O.R. or when they’re in critical condition in the ICU, it’s now. It’s the waiting. Once the child is on the table there’s no going back, but you can see the uncertainty in Hussain’s father’s eyes as he sits there wondering whether or not to go through with it.

If I’m nervous, I can’t even begin to imagine how he must feel.

As I sat with them, I attempted to exchange emails with Hussain’s father in order to send him the photos after the mission. He didn’t know what email was; a nearby nurse had to explain it to him. I tried to imagine how his father could not know about email and still be willing to trust his child to the doctors with all their medical technology and know-how. It must have taken incredible faith on his part to let Hussain climb up onto that operating table.

But thankfully, we have a phenomenal team with us this mission, and Hussain’s case isn’t overly complex. That doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee, but it’s at least comforting. Thanks for sticking with Hussain and his sweet father up to this point.

We’ll have more surgery updates for you in a few hours—keep reading!

Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalInternational Children's Heart Foundation

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

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