read our blog »
Preemptive Love Coalition Home   Lifesaving heart surgeries for Iraqi children in pursuit of peace between communities at odds.


Donate Now!

Cross-Posted: “Human Rights Defender, Samira Abdulghani”

April 9, 2014 by  

This week we’re remembering the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Fallujah. And, whatever feelings the name ‘Fallujah’ may stir in you, you have to admire the work of our friend and hero, Dr. Samira Al-Aani.

She has dedicated her life to serving Fallujah’s children and to bringing attention to their need. Take a minute to watch some of the speech she gave at The Carter Center last year. We’re honored to know her!”

There was no anger in Dr. Samira Abdulghani’s voice as she recounted her work as a pediatric specialist at General Hospital in Fallujah, Iraq. She was at a Carter Center forum of human rights defenders telling the story of “Iraq’s Hiroshima” and to ask for help. Her message: Nearly 1 in 7 babies born there have major birth and congenital heart defects, likely due to chemical weapons used during U.S.-led attacks beginning in 2004, and the community needs help. They need medical facilities and medicine; they need someone to take responsibility and to find a solution.

Dr. al-Ani is the only doctor in Fallujah documenting the cases of congenital abnormalities. In one three-week period, she recorded 37 births with serious defects in her hospital alone.

Read more about Dr. Samira and her incredible work here.





Did you like this post? Get the latest news and free merchandise offers before it makes it to our blog by subscribing to our free newsletter!
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.

Why Fallujah Is Not ‘Lost’ (Thanks To You)

April 6, 2014 by  

The city of Fallujah continues to make headlines around the world as the Iraqi government, local tribes, and extremists struggle for authority in the region.

This week also marks the tenth anniversary of the US invasion of Fallujah—the military’s largest ground offensive since Vietnam.

You can find any number of pundits declaring the city ‘lost’ or ‘hopeless,’ but we know you know better. After serving hundreds of families, you’ve planted seeds in that city that are still growing, despite what’s raging around them.

Now we need your help to continue serving these children.

Many have fled Fallujah to the south of Iraq, where we have partner doctors who are ready to treat them. In fact, we just hired a new American nurse to help us serve more children and provide more training through our Remedy Fellowship program.

If you refuse to give up on the children of Fallujah and their future, please click below to help us save more lives!





Did you like this post? Get the latest news and free merchandise offers before it makes it to our blog by subscribing to our free newsletter!
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.

“My Heart Defect Doesn’t Define Or Defeat Me, It Compels Me To Serve”

February 27, 2014 by  

A photo of Roslyn with the famous Maddy, our 300th child served.

CHD Awareness Month is almost over, and I thought we should close out with a story from an amazing nurse and friend, Roslyn Rivera. I first met Roslyn in an ICU in Iraq, where she was showing the scar on her chest to an Iraqi child. It was obvious that the child got what she was saying: “I’m like you, and I’m here for you.” So when Roslyn volunteered to share more about life with a heart defect, and how it has changed her life—and the lives of countless children—for the better, we said “Yes!”

###

I knew at the age of ten that I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this life decision at such a young age would lead me to one day serve children all around the world.

My story begins the day I was born. I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, having two holes in my heart. I had two heart surgeries—at age three and ten. It was during that hospitalization at age ten that I decided I wanted to become a nurse. I noticed the faint scar on the chest of one of my nurses, and learned that she also had heart surgery. Hearing her story made me think how amazing it was that she had heart surgery and now she was my nurse!

While I’ve never let my heart condition hold me back in any way, it does influence how I live my life. My personal interest in all things heart-related led me to a nursing career in pediatric cardiac intensive care.

From a fellow nurse, I heard about an organization, the International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF), that did medical mission trips to provide heart surgery to children in developing countries. After my first volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic, I knew I found my calling. Knowing the degree that congenital heart defects occur around the world, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been born in America.

To think, I may not have had the opportunity to receive adequate medical care had I been born elsewhere. This is why I travel to developing countries with medical teams providing heart surgery to children who would otherwise not receive care.

I was that child in the hospital bed attached to wires and tubes, and now—as a nurse—I can truly relate to the children I care for. I remember my pacing wires being pulled out of my chest. I remember the expressions of worry and fear on my parents faces and the kind nurses who comforted them.

Roslyn smiling at the bedside of a patient.

Sometimes I share my heart story with my patients and their parents. If I don’t speak the language, I simply show them my scar in an attempt to convey the message that my scar is proof I survived. Sharing my story calms their anxiety and gives them a hope that their child will grow up to be a healthy adult.

In December 2012, I had the opportunity to go to Iraq with ICHF. Joining together with Preemptive Love, we initiated pediatric cardiac care in Basra. Traveling to Iraq was a distressing idea to much of my family and friends, but I knew my nursing skills would help save the lives of Iraqi children.

This trip was truly eye-opening. I found myself immersed in a culture I knew little about and I didn’t speak a word of Arabic, but I embraced all these differences.

Here in Iraq I learned that the expression of joy and gratitude on a mother’s face as she sees her child given a new chance at life is undeniably universal, and this only increased my desire to continue to help mend the hearts of children across the globe.





Did you like this post? Get the latest news and free merchandise offers before it makes it to our blog by subscribing to our free newsletter!
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.

Shelling At Fallujah Hospital Where You Helped Us Save Lives

February 24, 2014 by  

Heartbreaking. Saddening. Tragic. Awful.

After a quick search through my email’s trash I found these words scattered throughout our staff discussions about Fallujah.

Have you ever said or read a word so many times that it seems to lose its meaning? I’ve followed the situation in Fallujah closely for weeks now, hoping to understand how we can provide encouragement, relief, treatment for people there. But each headline feels a little less shocking than the one before it. Violence creeps closer to the norm, and media outlets unwittingly brand a city for generations to come: this place is violent, unsafe.

Thankfully, this video shook me out of that and forced me to remember that the way things are now isn’t the way they were or, most importantly, the way they’ll always be.

I know that because you sent our team to this exact location outside Fallujah General Hospital. We mingled, told jokes and took silly pictures with families in that courtyard, just a few feet from where that mortar struck.

We bought popsicles at the burned-out shop across the street, and I filmed flowers and traffic in this area that used to be buzzing with expectant moms and dads, sick children in tow.

When encouraged to leave, one doctor who doctor there said “…there is still 20% of the population in Fallujah, who will treat them if we left the hospital?” These doctors are risking there lives every day to care for injured civilians there. Please remember with us: there are families and friends—people you’ve helped us care for—in Fallujah who are trapped, scared, still waiting for relief. Thanks for looking past the violence and seeing people in need—we are grateful for you.

Donate now to help Iraqi families in need!









Did you like this post? Get the latest news and free merchandise offers before it makes it to our blog by subscribing to our free newsletter!
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.

Our Three Biggest Obstacles In 2014

February 6, 2014 by  

a photo of Saddam's palace crowded with barbed wire

As we plan for 2014 and all we hope to accomplish with you in Iraq, we have to size up our obstacles.

We’ve got to know what we’re up against if we’re going to take steps toward eradicating The Backlog together. Unfortunately, working in Iraq tends to mean pretty big obstacles, but we aren’t afraid because time and time again you guys have pushed us forward and obliterated barriers that we previously thought impenetrable.

Here are three of the biggest barriers we’re sizing up in 2014:

1. A severely deteriorated medical infrastructure.

There was a time when Iraq’s neighbors envied her healthcare services. People even traveled to Iraq from other countries for treatment. Fast-forward through several wars and a particularly crippling era of sanctions and you have something totally different: a medical infrastructure largely incapable of serving its population, often lacking even the most basic medical equipment and personnel.

Don’t think every city is suffering from crippling decay or that Iraqis are totally unable to treat patients. What I mean here is that they’re way behind. One of the best examples of this is our Najaf program, which we recently canceled at the recommendation of our partner doctors.

Najaf’s chief cardio-thoracic surgeon is bright, willing and eager to learn, but his hospital—and especially the pediatric ICU—is severely underdeveloped. We don’t shy away from underdeveloped. We love living and working in Iraq, attempting what other NGOs deem impossible.

But the lack of development was one part of what led to the end of our work in Najaf (at least for now). Many of the nurses tasked with keeping the children alive have inadequate training, and they are often without basic tools like respirators and essential medicines. We were ready to teach them, and we encouraged them to buy the needed equipment, but they ultimately threw in the towel.

Last year we decided with the locals—at the request of the locals, in fact—to stop sending Remedy Mission teams to Najaf in hopes that, eventually, Najafi politicians and hospital staff would allocate more funds and effort toward caring for their children.

2. Ugly, ongoing violence. We’ve already written about the headline-making violence happening in places like Fallujah and Ramadi. There are countless things about this situation that break our hearts, but the saddest might be that many of the people in Anbar are just loving, everyday Muslim families caught between forces who would rather play them like chess pieces than see them prosper.

Much of the media’s reporting on this situation has lacked nuance, making it seem like Fallujah is full of and overrun by Al Qaeda supporters, but the situation for most people there is more complex.

Do they—Arab Sunnis—support a Shia-led Iraqi government they feel has mistreated and marginalized them? Do they side with Al Qaeda and fight the government? Understandably, most residents consider both to be bad options and some of the larger tribes have formed their own go-between group, attempting to stand up to both sides while protecting Fallujah’s civilian innocents.

At least by our estimate, the situation in Fallujah isn’t getting better, which means we are unable to work there for the foreseeable future.

Fallujah Bomb Outside Hospital

The hospital has been “hit” by shelling, according to friends there.

The director of the hospital—another friend of ours—is missing and no one has seen or heard from him in weeks.

Our partner cardiologist from Fallujah, Dr. Firas, was trapped outside the city and is now looking for employment opportunities in Dubai or the Kurdistan region.

If it begins to let up, there is a chance we could be invited back sometime in the future, but it’s impossible to tell. We are still hopeful that Fallujah will open up and that we will be able to bring Remedy Mission teams to the city again soon. For now, though, things are delayed until the situation settles.

Read more about what’s happening in Anbar here.

3. Medical competition. This one is a little bittersweet, and doesn’t technically classify as an ‘obstacle’ in the way the previous two do. More and more of Iraq’s developed neighbors are looking to treat Iraqi children and train Iraqi doctors and nurses. For us, that means competition.

But should it?

We have the same goal. We may take different routes getting there and, at times, we may philosophically rub each other the wrong way, but, for us, anyone interested in eradicating The Backlog is considered an ally.

So this is an obstacle to us working in Iraq, but it is a victory for Iraqi children waiting in line for surgery—it’s something we celebrate!

Our program in Basra is a good example of this as the local doctors there recently decided to host surgical teams from India. Ultimately our hope is to see Basra’s doctors and nurses thrive and for their children to get the treatment they need. If that happens alongside Indian training teams, outstanding!

As we have seen with our first Remedy site in Sulaymaniyah, opportunities to save lives with former partners and programs often pop up when we least expect it. The key thing is always being ready to serve Iraqi children when the opportunity presents itself.





Did you like this post? Get the latest news and free merchandise offers before it makes it to our blog by subscribing to our free newsletter!
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.

Next Page »

Preemptive Love Coalition
© 2007-2014
a 501(c)(3) non-profit
EIN No. 26-2450109
Our Mission
Our Values
Our Children
Our Staff
Remedy Mission
Remedy Fellowship
Patient Feedback & Testimonials
Impact, Results & Financial Reports
Internships & Volunteers
Apply for Internship
Refer Your Intern
Evaluate Your Internship
Frequently Asked Questions
Terms & Conditions
Privacy Policy

  



 IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

Living Light International For Hearts & Souls International Children's Heart Foundation