I recently sat across a table from a white, middle-class, 20-something American man from Texas and it was just so… wonderful.
No, I wasn’t having tea with a mirror.
When we aren’t helping Fallujan babies get heart operations, we’re constantly encouraging you to engage ‘the other,’ to find someone radically different from yourself—preferably someone you would deem an ‘enemy’—and to connect with them. You get extra points for learning from them, and even more points for loving them when they treat you poorly.
But there is something really sweet about connecting and refreshing with like-minded people, and that’s why our recent trips across the United States have felt like a breath of fresh air. We speak the same language, we agree that Mayo on fries is nasty, and we share a common cultural heritage. Not to mention you guys teach us so much!
The eyes-wide-open passion of the students and faculty at Cedarville University, Bryan College, Taylor University, Calvin College, and Pepperdine University blew us away; it gave us hope.
So, to all the individuals and institutions who have hosted us in recent days: THANK YOU! Your role in the Coalition is invaluable—you’re saving lives in Iraq, and you’re certainly making ours better.
We’re headed back to the States this month for a series of speaking engagements, and we’d love to see you! Check the listing below to see if we’ll be in your area, or leave us a comment/send me an email if you’d like to host one of our staff for a dialogue about enemy-love, peacemaking, or our development work in Iraq.
Houston Baptist University – February 19 – Houston
The Justice Conference – February 22+23 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Loft Church – February 23-24 – The Woodlands, Texas
Ecclesia Church – February 24 – Houston, Texas
Eastgate Community Church – February 25 – Cincinnati, Ohio
Cedarville University – February 27 – Cedarville, Ohio
Photo Credit: Calvin College
You need to.
This just may be the cutest and most adorable boy in Iraq.
Alawi Hussein is just under three and a half years old and he was born with a congenital heart defect.
At 9 months old, instead of taking bets on what his first word was going to be, his parents were coping with the devastating news that Alawi had a heart problem. It was a heart problem, like most heart problems in Iraq, that could only be fixed outside of Iraq.
The list of countries that could help him was long.
Basically – many other countries except the one he was born in.
While the list of opportunities was long, the list of actual possibilities for Alawi was short.
Hearing about all the doctors overseas that can heal your son is simply cruel if you don’t have the money – or even a passport – to pursue the option.
His family had to learn to enjoy the time they had with Alawi and just hope for a remedy the doctors might have somehow missed.
That surprise came this month when they were called by their local cardiologist here in southern Iraq and told that Alawi no longer needs to go overseas to be saved, because of a team of doctors and nurses that was being brought in to save his life at the hospital just fifteen minutes from their home
It was thirty-two months later than they were hoping but remedy finally came to southern Iraq.
We still hope that Alawi’s family will visit foreign countries someday, but not as last chance medical tourists!
You are the Remedy.
You bring in medical teams every time you give. Our medical teams teach Iraqi doctors and nurses. Our medical teams save lives. So Iraqi doctors and nurses learn how to save lives. Our medical team goes home. The Iraqi’s keep saving lives.
It’s one beautiful domino affect!
We hope we can save Alawi’s life this week… and not just because he’s one of the cutest boys in Iraq! Follow Alawi’s story this week on the blog and on our Facebook page (<-- link) to see what comes next...
Photo by Just Us 3
In Los Angeles last week we met three brothers who had given up their birthday money to help save the life of a child in Iraq. All three brothers are under the age of five, which makes them the youngest heart menders we’ve met on the tour!
From their house I hopped on a plane that took me to Dearborn, Michigan outside of Detroit to spend an afternoon with Imam Qazwini. Imam Qazwini is the leader of the Muslim community in Dearborn where he preaches and leads times of prayer in the largest mosque in America. He is also widely held to be the leading voice for Muslims in North America while also advocating tirelessly for reconciliation, tolerance, and peace.
He was born in Iraq but spent 32 years as a refugee after Saddam Hussein killed his grandfather along with 15 other family members for being Shiite. During my time with Imam Qazwini, we shared stories and drank tea as he told me about his family and his love for Iraq. But what impacted me the most was his vision for the future.
This man believes in peace. This man believes in reconciliation. This man is a heartmender.
He’s committed to a future for Iraq that doesn’t involve bombs, chemicals, or racism. To my surprise, he and his ayatollah father (who is still in Iraq) are both actively committed to a future where a backlog of 20-30,000 children waiting for lifesaving heart surgery is a thing of the past.
As I finished my tea with Imam Qazwini I thought about those three boys who had given their birthday money to save a life. What does a 2-year-old have to do with someone like Imam Qazwini? They both believe they can make a difference. They’re both heartmenders.
Today I thanked GOD for Imam Qazwini in Dearborn and for those three boys in Los Angeles along with all those out there who believe in tomorrow.
What are you up to today to mend hearts in your community or in Iraq? Let us know on Facebook or via Twitter (both below).
“This is all it takes?”
That was our response when we received some heart valves in the mail this past week. This tiny piece? This is all it takes to turn a little boy gasping for breath into a soccer player? This is all it takes to turn a little girl who has to be carried to school into a girl who laughs as she races her friends to the playground for the first time? To turn a dying heart into a thriving heart?
This is it. (Plus a couple decades of practice, amazing medical facilities, and a stellar surgical and support team!).
Now, this ACTION TEE below is all it takes to put a life-saving, child-transforming, heart-mending valve into the hands of our doctors! Order our NEW Heartmender Action Tee TODAY and you’ll put a gift under the tree that literally SAVES LIVES with profits from the shirt covering the costs of these heart valves!
This is all it takes. Do you have it?
DID YOU GET YOUR SHIRT?
CHRISTMAS BLOG SPECIAL — 20% OFF!
Dear Peacemakers & Heartmenders –
As 2009 draws to a close you’ve used your voice, resources, and passion to provide 21 heart surgeries for children in Iraq! Twenty one boys and girls, 42 parents, and countless communities across Iraq and the world have been affected by your generosity this year alone!
But here’s another way you can mend hearts and make peace this Christmas! You’re the first to see our brand new Heartmender & Peacemaker tees! Wipe the drool off your keyboard, get out your digital shopping cart and give your family and friends a t-shirt that literally mends hearts and makes peace!
Put our yellow Heartmender Tee under the tree this year and 100% of the profit pays for heart valves and patches–the pieces that literally turn a dying heart into a thriving heart!
Stuff our olive Peacemaker Tee into a stocking this Christmas and 100% of the profit goes directly to our Followthrough Program, the program that creates cooperation and peacemaking opportunities between communities at odds. In this shirt, your family and friends can know that you’ve brought together Arabs, Kurds, Turks, and Westerners who are breaking down the barriers to peace in Iraq and throughout the world with life-saving heart surgeries.
CHRISTMAS SALE: Peacemaker Tee
Every time we give a heart surgery to an Iraqi child we broker reconciliation between clashing communities. Imagine yourself in this shirt waging peace on Iraq! All proceeds fund our Family Services program.
CHRISTMAS SALE: Heartmender Tee
These dear Iraqi kids are often born with holes in their hearts that need patching and valves that need replacing. And it’s outrageously expensive! Buy this tee and stand in the hole between what could be and what should be.
A shy Tarza and her mother began the admissions process today for her heart surgery. Even though she is beginning to warm up to those of us on staff, she is still very quiet and shy. Because of this, I rather expected her to be fearful of the tests which had to be done today prior to her admission. What a surprise that she was such a trooper when it came her turn for the dreaded blood test! She only made a small whimper when the needle was inserted, and was very brave the rest of the time for every test.
The doctor found in the echo that Tarza has an ASD, which can be repaired by a simple and short heart surgery (relatively speaking of course!) It is hoped that her surgery can be scheduled soon, and after the surgical team meets on Sunday we should have a better idea about just how soon. Naturally all of us hope they do not have to endure a long wait to get the treatment they came for.
On Sunday Tarza and her mother will return to the hospital to be checked after the standard test for tuberculosis. One father was a great help to them and us at the hospital by translating and explaining what to expect, and another father has been a great help here at the house.