Every mission I could swear I’d met the cutest child on the planet, they’re always one-upping each other. But today this little jewel was carried into the hospital break room, and I’m quite sure she takes the cake. And the crazy thing is, I’d already met her and didn’t realize it!
Her name is Sema (pronounced seh-mah), and she was the first arterial switch operation to be performed in Najaf last February. She was actually one of the first operations from Remedy Mission IX, and now she’s back for a post-op screening (just to make sure everything’s working alright).
Since our last encounter, Sema has learned how to smile, clap, eat on her own, and her skin is now a nice, life-like hue—as opposed to the blueberry tone she had before. Her parents were ecstatic and insisted that I take photos—a dream come true for any photographer!
After Sema had thoroughly won all of us over, her father grabbed Dr. Novick’s hand and, with a cracking voice and moist eyes, said, “Thank you for save her, sir!” His joy was a great reminder of why we do what we do, and it was a great reminder of how desperate these parents are. As you can imagine, the entire team was encouraged by their visit.
But Sema and her sweet smile wouldn’t be with us today if it weren’t for you—you gave money to make sure these Remedy Missions happen, and Sema is a testament to that. Would you consider giving again? Click here to donate and to help us save more children like Sema—we can’t do this without you!
February 15, 2012 by matt · Comments Off
Doctors assigned little Nassir a number—119—and then told him to get in line.
“Should I get a hotel near the hospital for a few days?” his father asked. “No, come back in 5 or 6 years.” So Nassir’s father went home dejected with nothing to do but wait. But waiting could render Nassir inoperable, and then it would be too late.
But, thanks to you, Nassir and his family are getting another chance. Click here to listen to a father tell of his search for a surgery.
February 11, 2012 by matt · Comments Off
Remember super-sad-faced Hamma?! He’s getting surgery now!
I spent much of the day running in and out of the operating room to check on him. His father kept poking his head in from the hallway and whispering, “Psst! Mister! Photo Hamma?”
I felt like an image delivery boy with all the running back-and-forth, but letting Hamma’s dad ‘watch’ his son’s progress through surgery was extremely rewarding—at one point he even side-hugged me!
Here are a few of the photos I showed dad throughout the day:
(The boy isn’t alone here, the nurse just stepped away from the window)
As you can imagine, each picture I showed them brought on strong emotions, and by the end of the day his parent’s eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep and crying. But the doctors report that the surgery is going well.
More to come…
January 14, 2012 by Cody · Comments Off
Baby Ridha was born just 19 days ago. She may not be old enough to keep up with The Fantastic Five, but she was born at the perfect time for the surgeons to save her life. By the time Remedy arrived, Ridha’s heart was at the perfect developmental stage to be fixed, making her the 2nd (and the youngest!) baby to ever receive an arterial switch in Iraq!
December 21, 2011 by matt · Comments Off
A view from the minaret of a local mosque as the call to prayer sounds.
The streets were absolutely silent. No kids running around, no mothers yelling after them. It was a little after one on the first day of Ramadan and the whole neighborhood seemed to be telling me, “For goodness’s sake, get out of this heat, go back inside and preserve what few bodily fluids you have.”
But I had a specific mission this day. Having been raised a Christian in the Midwest of the United States, I have very little first-hand experience with Islam. So on this day I was headed to a friend’s home to learn more about this Ramadan business.
Medya and her family welcomed me into their quieted home. The soporific atmosphere had already gotten to her older brother, who lay sleeping on the couch, while other family members wandered around in their house clothes alternating between reading the Koran and staring into space. So this is it? I wondered.
Thirty days devoted to inactivity and religious texts? If there’s one thing I’ve picked up on about my Muslim friends its their whole-hearted love and respect for God’s will. They are intensely devoted to knowing it, following it and furthering it. I soon discovered that the scene in this room demonstrated no less than this.
For the next hour and a half Medya and her siblings (and Google Translate) walked me through the ins and outs of Ramadan. I learned that any good deed done during these 30 days will count for many times over during the rest of the year. They explained people will be more generous, more kind and more caring during this time than any other.
Ramadan is “the month of forgiveness”—a time of fasting and petition before the Most High. A sin forgiven during Ramadan is a sin forgiven 100 times over for the next year. And as Medya reminded me, “God is at all times merciful.” Similarly, if you read the Koran during these 30 days it will be to God as if you’ve read it 30 times. (Medya and her sisters will each read the Koran twice this year—to build a credit of 60 times).
As the afternoon wound down (if that’s possible) they began explaining the concept of “Zikat”. It’s a percentage of all your “saved” assets that must be given to the poor. Any money you’re not using, gold you’re not wearing, or livestock you shepherd must be accounted for. 1 oz of silver for every 140 oz you have, 2.5% of your gold, 1 sheep for every 40. This rule instated by the prophet Muhammed himself has changed some over time.
In most Muslim countries, there is no longer a “Ministry of Zikat” to monitor and distribute these offerings. Instead each family brings their personal percentage of wealth directly to a family in need. “In need” ranges anywhere from abject poverty to refugees to those people displaced because of volunteer work or schooling.
As we covered this last category, Medya’s brother looked at me and laughed, “Lydia—that’s you! Maybe you will get a sheep.”
Ramadan Kareem, everyone!
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began yesterday, and TIME Magazine published an article on their website with a few interesting facts that you may not have known.
For example, do you know why Ramadan is such an important month for Muslims? Do you know the traditional fast-breaking foods? Some Muslims don’t even swallow their spit during fasting hours! To learn more, check out the TIME article.
And to all of our Muslim friends: what did the TIME article leave out? Use the comments section below to share more interesting tidbits about Ramadan with us!
July 24, 2011 by Ryan · Comments Off
1: Dressing up isn’t only about looking good
For the most part, in America, men don’t dress up to impress their platonic male friends in social settings. When going out somewhere, whether it’s a sporting event, coffee shop, fast food joint or just hanging out somewhere, men typically don’t dress to impress their male friends. We just don’t. If I showed up to have lunch with a friend wearing slacks, dress shoes and a button down shirt, he’d almost be sure to ask where I was coming from or where I was going, that required such attire.
Would you press your shirt and throw on a tie for an all-guys backyard barbecue? Would you shine your shoes and put on slacks to go watch a ball game at a friends house?
Let’s be honest. The answer is no, you wouldn’t.
But the Kurds do. Every weekend in the bazaar, at tea shops or just walking in the street I see Kurdish men wearing slacks, button-down shirts and the shiniest shoes I’ve ever seen in the dustiest place I’ve ever been. Here in Sulaymaniyah, dressing up is not all about looking good. It’s an expression of respect to the people around you as well as to the friend you are meeting for tea. Dressing up isn’t about demonstrating how dapper you can look. It’s about wordlessly saying, “The time I spend with you is a special occasion, and that is worth dressing up for.”
2: Hospitality isn’t just refilling the bowl of potato chips
I always try to be a good host when people come over. I’ve got the basics down – offer them food, offer them drinks, “is there anything I can get you?” – you know, the usual. But since coming to Kurdistan, I’m realizing that hospitality isn’t just refilling the bowl of potato chips; my hospitality should not be confined to guests at my house.
While being here, so many Kurds have gone to great lengths to show me hospitality: from physically leading me to my destination when I’m lost (despite it being in the opposite direction of their destination) to spending entire afternoons with me drinking tea, playing backgammon, teaching me Kurdish and talking about life. When was the last time you spent an afternoon with a stranger, let alone an acquaintence, just to show them a good time?
3: We all yearn for reconciliation
I entered Kurdistan harboring misunderstandings. Besides some brief reading of Kurdish’s history, most of my opinions of Kurdistan were shaped by mainstream media and ignorance. Let me tell you, that was a mistake. My Kurdish friends laughed as I explained the common perceptions of Iraq and Muslims in general, and grimaced soberly as they explained that Osama Bin Laden wasn’t a real Muslim because of the way he perverted, corrupted and twisted the teachings of Islam for violence and hatred.
My Kurdish friends laughed as I told them that not all Americans are like the people on Jersey Shore and that our nation isn’t entirely filled with debaucherous hedonists. They nodded disapprovingly as I spoke about the Westboro Baptist Church and their hateful and irreverent propaganda, and nodded in agreement as I said that we reject them as true representations of Christian theology and culture.
Many things became clear through these conversations, but the most profound epiphany I experienced was that we all yearn for reconciliation. We spoke about TV and culture, but what we were doing was reaching for common ground, understanding, and reconciliation. In discussing our differences and our misunderstandings, we found a common desire for peace between our cultures.
See One. Do One. Teach One. Remedy Mission Trains Iraqi Heart Doctors and Nurses for the Future of the Children and their Country
February 23, 2011 by Jeremy · Comments Off
Push play above for a peek into what it means for our volunteers to be here training local Iraqi heart doctors and nurses.
After you’ve viewed it, please “SHARE” below with Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc.
If you’re on Twitter this week be sure to use the #RemedyMission hashtag to describe all the good news coming out of Iraq this week via @preemptivelove.
February 21, 2011 by Cody · Comments Off
This morning Alawi got the heart surgery we’ve all been waiting for!
Local doctors and nurses – alongside the ICHF team – took a minimalistic approach to his repair, seeking to do as little “trauma” to his heart as possible. Unfortunately, after surgery, it seemed the minimalist approach wasn’t holding as well as they hoped. They decided to perform an even more robust correction that would make Alawi even stronger than he already was.
So Alawi went yet again into the operating room just as bravely as he went into his first operation.
Alawi’s a reminder of what we’re committed to – we will do whatever it takes to make each child and each Iraqi doctor and nurse into the healthiest child and most-skilled doctor or nurse they can be.
Hoping for the best still never makes it easy to watch a child go in for surgery.
We could not do this without you! You are our heroes and you inspire us to keep going so much! Stay tuned to get the latest update on Alawi from the ICU via our Facebook Page!