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.”
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!
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!
We’re back in Najaf for Remedy Mission XI, and the surgeries are underway!
Click the play button to meet our kind cardiologists (volunteers w/ the International Children’s Heart Foundation), and to hear more about their work so far.
Several children have now received operations and are doing well—we’ll introduce you to some of then soon.
This is the second of several operating room updates that we’ll be sending you, so keep watching and keep an eye on our Facebook page to see more!
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 22, 2012 by Cody · Comments Off
As I write this, I’m driving away from Remedy Mission VIII. Just hours ago, we were in the hospital waiting for our 16th child to come out of the operating room.
This mission’s last child was a little baby boy named Younis.
Younis came 400 miles to get to Remedy, but the drive took it’s toll and Younis—just 2 months old—came down with a fever. Every day we put him on the schedule for surgery, but every day we had to cancel because his fever wouldn’t break. Some days it would break in the middle of the night, but by the time we could rush to the hospital to operate the fever had returned. This continued until the very last day of the mission. This time his fever broke for good, giving us just enough time to give Younis the lifesaving surgery for which he had traveled so far.
These are the stories of Remedy.
I also had the privilege of telling Ali’s story this mission, but it wasn’t just Ali who you helped us save this mission. You saved Amjed, Zainab, Alawi, Zain, and so many more.
This past week I’ve been reflecting more on the lives of these children and the life and vision of Martin Luther King Jr. In between surgical days I re-listened to some of his sermons, trying to once again stir my heart for the things that stirred his.
I was humbled by the devotion and the vision that he carried throughout his life, right up until his assassination. He maintained an astounding vision of God and his fellow man, one that led to his unparalleled passion for justice and peace.
King reminded me once again that there comes a point when silence is betrayal.
And so he shouted out for justice, equality and love. He spoke up for the broken, the poor, the ones affected by unjust war and the ones who had no voice of their own.
And people listened. We’re still listening.
This week I’m profoundly grateful for the life of Martin Luther King Jr. And I’m also profoundly grateful for you.
You see, these Remedy Missions can’t happen without you. In our writings we use the word “I” and “we” a lot but truth-be-told, I can’t think of one thing “I’ or “we” have done apart from you.
Because of that, together we’re breaking the silence. You’re bringing Remedy Missions to cities all over Iraq and because of that you’re saying to the people of Iraq “You are not alone. We are in this together.”
And they’re listening.
Thank you for not reducing the vision and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to a yearly quote, but for committing to live it out by saving the lives of children like Ali and Younis. Thank you for Remedy Mission VIII!
We’re just two weeks away from our next Remedy Mission….stick with us!
January 21, 2012 by Cody · Comments Off
If you’ve been following Ali’s story, you’ll be happy to know he is doing extremely well! Remedy Mission VIII is almost at an end, but Ali’s last words for the camera were expressions of gratitude—thank you for saving him!
In case you missed them, go check out more photos/videos of Ali and his friends on our Twitter stream.
January 18, 2012 by Cody · Comments Off
I got to the hospital this morning only to find out Ali had just been wheeled into the operating room for surgery.
I went to see how Ali’s mother was doing and she was surrounded by a group of women—all with enormous smiles on their faces. I asked why they were all smiling and they said it’s because Ali is getting his heart fixed!
12 years of waiting for a lifesaving heart surgery…I’d be all smiles too!
Ali should be coming out of the operating room within the next few hours. We’ll let you know how it goes!
January 17, 2012 by Cody · Comments Off
Ali’s days in the hospital got a whole lot more exciting once the doctors told him that tomorrow’s his turn to get his heart fixed!
What’s the first thing he did when he heard that? He grabbed the phone and called Dad.
Ali is just hours away from getting his heart mended—get ready!
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.