April 12, 2012 by matt · Comments Off
“If we live skeptically and only by the principles of risk-management, I fear we’ll miss the opportunity to remake the world around us.”
On a recent trans-atlantic trip, Jeremy Courtney was invited to share about the concept of preemptive love at TEDxAustin’s 4th annual conference.
This talk differed from his TEDxBaghdad talk as he shared new stories and invited attendees to consider how they personally might “do preemptive love.” And the video presents the same question to you: what can you do—small or large—to remake the world today?
After watching the video, would you share it? Your ‘shares’ and support help make our work possible—they can help save lives!
It’s interesting how my perspectives on people who are different than me have changed since the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002. I remember sitting rapt in front of the television watching Hans Blix look for weapons of mass destruction. I remember skipping class one Tuesday afternoon and watching coverage of the war, the fall of Baghdad, and the subsequent “Mission Accomplished” speech. I distinctly remember the Sunday night that news of Saddam Hussein’s capture interrupted my weekly viewing of Alias – a spy show that no doubt fed my ambivalence toward the very real people of Iraq.
But when I visited Iraq for the first time three years into the war, at the height of the sectarian violence, I was entirely unprepared for how much I would actually care about the people of Iraq; how much I would be moved and changed by their story.
The single greatest change in my life between that night when we saw Saddam groveling in a hole and the night that I wept bitterly in Kirkuk over nemesis neighbors bent on killing one another was the birth of my little girl, Emma.
I wasn’t ready to be a dad. I loved my young-married life with my wife. She was all I had dreamed about and I loved our freedom. We traveled the world together, listened to music that was actually cool, read books with big words, and enjoyed many long walks and talks without interruption each week. All of that was severely threatened when we found out we were pregnant.
I was excited, but certainly scared – mostly about what bearing this new child would have on our marriage. I wasn’t ready to give up freedom and travel for monosyllabic books like See Spot Run.
But that first day in Dr. Hidayet’s office when we heard Emma’s heartbeat… that was a life-changing moment! And as they wheeled my wife away a few months later on a gurney beyond those double doors in Istanbul, Turkey I was terrified that something would go wrong in this foreign country. I was actually in the room for my daughter’s birth. I held her within seconds of her first breath. And one of the most amazing moments of my life was the first minutes we had alone together in a Turkish corridor as all the chaos of the hospital disappeared and I watched my daughter look at me for the first time.
I guess my point is this: becoming a father changed me.
So when I arrived in Iraq with my daughter and my wife in 2007, I was not the same person who had watched the news on Iraq with disconnected interested years prior. I was a father now. And with that came a special code of conduct – a code that transcends culture.
I didn’t see “Iraqis” or even “Muslims”. Arabs weren’t “rag heads” like some of my friends and family had suggested. Kurds were not these disempowered mountain Turks that I had grown up seeing with Klashnikovs on CBS News in 1990.
I mostly just saw fathers. Most of the media coverage of our work in Iraq suggests that we are caring for the children of Iraq, healing their hearts, and creating a better future for them. I certainly agree. But I have a slightly broader agenda: I see myself as caring for the fathers of Iraq.
I’ve sat by too many dads as they’ve tried to choke back tears in hopes of remaining strong and faithful to the belief that God is in control. I hate that sound – the sound of grief chokin
g.So I work each day to care – not only for the children in Iraq – but for the fathers in Iraq, as well. Because I am one. And my caring has actually made me a better father for my own children. As I consider each day how many of my father-friends have lost their little boys and girls, it helps me value every minute I have with my children more deeply. Caring for the fathers of Iraq helps me remember what a blessing my children are to me. I came home from work a little late last Thursday night and spent an extra hour laying in bed with my son telling stories, tickling, and dreaming up imaginary exploits that Batman and Superman together would be afraid to touch – but not us! I spent this extra time with my son because I had a need that only he could fill for me. I didn’t think I was doing him a favor. I was keenly aware that he was making me whole, filling up what was lacking in me after a long day of working for other fathers and their little boys.
The bio sketches of our organization and my role in it will probably continue to talk about the way we’ve changed Iraq by establishing lifesaving heart hospitals across the country through our Remedy Missions. But the truth is even more profound. I am now connected to the people of Iraq as a father and a friend; as a big brother and an uncle that works joyfully in hopes that other people from around the world will come to love them as I do.
I’m not sure yet what my legacy in Iraq will be – if anything. But Iraq’s legacy in the life of my family is clear. This Father’s Day we celebrate how the dads of Iraq have shaped our family and how loving them has brought us closer.
Dad, I love all the great memories we’ve made together. This year, I wanted to add, “saving a child’s life in Iraq” to the list, so that another child and his father can make great memories together too.
|We want to make it easy for you to honor your dad this Father's Day and help save the life of baby Ghazel. A simple $10 donation will help us save her life and cover the cost of two hours of hands-on training with local Iraqi surgeons! A $25 donation will accomplish that and add hours of training in Iraq for an additional three Iraqi doctors and nurses! If you like, we'll even provide you with a free downloadable card that you can print and give to your dad this Father's Day!|
Meet Baby Bakir (pronounced bah-ker). Thanks to the combined efforts of Nahoko Takato, the talented doctors and nurses at Anadolu Medical Center, and the Preemptive Love Coalition, this beautiful little boy is now recovering after receiving a lifesaving heart surgery in Istanbul, Turkey.
This is actually an exciting week for Bakir’s hometown of Fallujah as it’s the first annual Remember Fallujah Week. US veteran Ross Caputi launched the Justice for Fallujah Project to decry the atrocities committed against the citizens of Fallujah during the Iraq War.
US officials report that more than half of the city’s 39,000 homes were either damaged or destroyed in Operation Phantom Fury in 2004, and, like Bakir, many of the city’s children have continued to experience the lingering effects of chemical weapons in the form deadly heart defects.
Yet in the midst of so much destruction, we’re eager to offer you stories like Bakir’s. In a city of rubble, his is a bright story of hope and future.
September 13, 2010 by Jeremy · Comments Off
Deeya is alive and doing well at home today because of the surgery you provided for her in Iraq!
Wow! What a phenomenal trip it has been these last few weeks as you have brought a new remedy to the children of Iraq through the surgical and nursing team of Dr. William Novick. It’s high time we update your impact to help Iraqis make a better future for themselves and their children.
The total expense for our first Remedy Mission was approximately $90,000. This amount was further subsidized by the Director of Health in our city and the Kurdish Regional Government in Washington D.C., and the International Children’s Heart Foundation. The balance was underwritten by you!
This family was not yet chosen for surgery… they are still waiting for our next Remedy Mission.
Locally, Remedy Mission was a great success. We ended the week at dinner with the governor and the health director where they invited us to start our next Remedy Mission as quickly as possible. When we suggested May 2010 as a next date, all the surgeons and the health director rallied together to urge us to begin again in February instead.
Our current proposal is a five year plan comprising four trips per year to make the Sulaymaniyah Cardiac Center a premier facility in the region that is able to perform 12-14 surgeries per week without foreign assistance. We estimate that this will cost $1.5m and we are currently talking with the local authorities in hopes that they will choose to shoulder the majority of that expense.
During Remedy Mission ICHF and local surgeons performed 25 corrective cardiac procedures. Put differently, we helped more kids in 12 days than we have in any 12 month period to date… at a massive savings compared to our work in Iraq… with hands-on training for Iraqi doctors and nurses! A typical all-inclusive surgery in Istanbul costs us $10,000 (after subsidies). That expense is usually shared among the family of the child, local and international donors. The typical PLC international donor portion of a surgery in Turkey is $3-5k.
Cody Fisher reviews the list of kids who received surgery and kids still in line for February 2011.
The numbers for Remedy Mission look much different. Not only are we able to work in partnership with others more during Remedy Missions, but every surgery represents a local development and training opportunity. The all-inclusive price for all partners was approximately $3,600 per child (compared to $10k in Istanbul and much more in the States or Europe).
Remedy Mission has taught us a lot about being fiscally and developmentally responsible. Therefore, in an effort to redouble our commitment to long-term local solutions, we will be increasing our Remedy Mission funding in hopes of facilitating four Remedy Missions in our current city in 2011.
The following families are still waiting in line for our help…. Will you be the remedy? Donate the amount of your choice below to get our next Remedy Mission off to a strong start!
Remedy Missions are international pediatric heart surgery teams that we bring to Iraq to to perform lifesaving heart surgeries and develop the infrastructure for the future. If you’re on Twitter this week be sure to use the #Remedy or #RemedyMission hashtag to describe all the good news coming out of Iraq this week via @preemptivelove and @babyheart_org. If you’re on Facebook, “Share” this story with the button below.
July 20, 2010 by Jeremy · Comments Off
On July 18th four Iraqi kids arriving in Istanbul, Turkey in need of lifesaving heart surgery. They have entered a country about which they have mostly heard negative stories.
This week will change their perspectives and change their lives forever…
July 18, 2010 by Jeremy · Comments Off
Her purple dress could not have matched her skin tone any better. As Nivar disembarked the airplane after arriving safely in Istanbul, I was more than a little scared that all our efforts were going to amount to a movement from the frying pan to the fire.
The oxygen in a crowded airplane cabin at cruising altitude is not the ideal environment for a child with a heart defect that inhibits the flow of oxygen throughout her body. And when I saw Nivar crouching down in the airport after going through the first round of security, I was really afraid that we might lose her right then and there.
In GOD’s kindness she worked through her breathing difficulty with the determination of someone who has never known any better. While I was worried about her, she seemed to hardly know anything was wrong. This shortness of breath, clubbed hands and toes, and deep blue skin is all she’s ever known.
Upon arriving at the hospital it was more of the same. She preferred to crouch on the floor to sit in her beautiful private bed. In fact, she preferred to crouch on the floor to pretty much any thing else at all.
But she’s here. She survived the flight and the travel across town – two things that we are constantly concerned about with children who are as sick as Nivar. Now she is in the capable hands of the medical staff at the Anadolu Medical Center. In a few days’ time, she will have had her heart surgery and, with great likelihood, will be on her way to a totally new life of long walks and intense soccer matches with her brother.
Stay tuned for more…
July 6, 2010 by Lydia · Comments Off
Two weeks from now we will be taking five kids to Istanbul for surgery! Keep watching the blog for updates on their progress.
May 13, 2010 by Joshua · Comments Off
It looks like we found Bawar in time… still playing football! But before his window of time runs out, we plan on taking him to a much needed heart surgery in Istanbul, Turkey.
April 14, 2010 by Jeremy · Comments Off
It was about mid-morning on Sunday when Leena’s dad came into our office, frantically looking for help for his daughter who was dying before his eyes from her congenital heart defect.
We contacted our partners in Istanbul at the Anadolu Medical Center and they concurred: it might be too late for Leena, now 50 days old, but if there was any remaining chance she should come immediately.
With unprecedented speed we worked with Leena’s father and their extended family to get Leena to surgery. The family and friend network rallied quickly sold their car and rallied with a total of $10,000. Within just a few hours we were able to get our local staff, Leena, and her mother on the very last seats out of Iraq on Tuesday’s flight to Istanbul.
The picture above is Leena’s last moments with her father before leaving him to go back to the village where he is 8 year old Mohammed Star’s elementary school teacher, whom we sent to surgery in November 2009.
|Are you looking for a way to get involved? Let us suggest the following three actions:
March 2, 2010 by Jeremy · Comments Off
Deelan arrived in Istanbul, Turkey last night on a plane from Iraq thanks to Atlasjet Airlines and the generous support they’ve offered to help us get this February group to surgery. If you are one of our summer interns, we highly recommend that you choose Atlasjet to fly into Iraq.
Our Family Services Director, Jessica Courtney, (who, if you’re keeping score at home, is also my wife) accompanied Deelan, his mother, and one other family to Istanbul last night to round out our February/March group of surgeries.
Special thanks to the Alice Abdi at the Anadolu Medical Center for the continual support, for staying late at the hospital to receive these dear kids, and for sending – as always – a special private van to pick up these fearful families. This keeps our costs low, speeds up our travel, and most importantly, shows the kind hearted desires of so many here in Turkey as they reach out to Kurds and the rest of the people of Iraq in providing these deeply discounted, life-saving heart surgeries.
Deelan is not doing well at all – crying nearly constantly and facing down dangerously high pulmonary pressure in addition to the huge hole between the lower two chambers of his heart .
Deelan is scheduled for surgery on Wednesday.
*In accordance with PLC’s desire to lend a hand-up by avoiding strict hand-outs (when possible), Deelan’s family contributed $5,000 towards PLC’s highly-discounted surgery prices.