Each time I sit down with the families, I share with them why we’re doing what we’re doing and why their stories matter. I tell them that the more people who hear their stories, the more who will begin to care, and the more who begin to care, the more who will begin to act. And GOD-willing, soon every child in Iraq will have access to the healthcare they justly deserve.
Hassan’s story matters to us.
Hassan is just 7 months old. When he was just 13 days old he came down with a high fever which led him to the doctor who diagnosed his heart defect. He has an enlarged heart among other defects. They traveled five hours to Baghdad to have another doctor look at him but the doctor could only recommend him to doctors in other countries. The doctor told them, “Not even in the tribes, do they have this extreme of a heart defect.”
They knew they couldn’t afford to go to another country so they never gave up visiting doctors inside Iraq, certain that there must be one who could save their son. At last, an Iraqi doctor told them he knew how to fix Hassan. That week they traveled back to Baghdad to have the doctor operate on him but the doctor turned them away, telling them to come back the following week. They returned but were turned away again.
This happened nine straight weeks in a row.
Finally the doctor left the country, dashing all hopes they had for Hassan.
Hassan’s mother never gave up waiting for his return. She continued to look after Hassan full time, quitting her job as a teacher. Hassan’s father served in the Iraqi military under Saddam Hussein but when he refused to take a man’s life, he was forced to find a way out. When the opportunity presented itself, he fled. Soon after, he was caught and thrown in prison. He was released after a year, only after being tortured until the point where he became mentally disabled. His wife told us that he can’t even play with his children anymore. This doesn’t take away the love his children have for him and Hassan can’t wait to be back home with his Dad.
Until then, Hassan knows there’s something in his heart that needs to be fixed and that day’s only hours away.