Saving Children's Lives Through Borderless Charity
"Hello dear Madam!
"This boy is my cousin who has been suffering from hole in heart. If you can do anything for his good health, we would be very thankful to you."
Farhad Zaheer, teacher, Jalalabad to Anna Mussman, Israel
"I realize helping a child from a country which Israel has no diplomatic relations [with] is not easy, but perhaps possible."
"Thanks so much and Shabbat Shalom."
Anna Mussman, 69, retired U.S. State Department official
Little Yehia, living in Peshawar, Pakistan, of Afghan parents was born with his two main arteries reversed. If that wasn't trouble enough, he also had two holes in his heart. Yehia's parents made contact with a local specialist capable of performing the needed surgery, but the charge was $7,000. Yehia's father sells flour for a living. The family had saved $200, soon eaten up by medical bills. They approached Mr. Zaheer on a trip back to Afghanistan to attend a family wedding, for help.
Mr. Zaheer had once worked on a teacher training project in Nouristan Province and he had come to the notice of Ms. Mussman, then overseeing the project for the U.S. State Department. After he had contacted her asking for help for the infant, she recalled reading about an Israeli charity that provides free surgeries to children from developing countries.
Yehia's father would not divulge the family name, fearing a backlash for having taken his child to Israel for medical treatment. Thus becoming the first child from Afghanistan to be treated by Save a Child's Heart. In its 20 years of operations half of the charity's four thousand patients have been Palestinian children; 200 others, children from Iraq and Syria. Children from Tanzania, Ethiopia and Moldova have also had treatment in Holon, Israel, where the charity is positioned.
Ms. Mussman put Mr. Zaheer in touch with an Iranian American who had worked in Jalalabad. That diplomat provided the required visas for the family needing to cross into Israel through Turkey, to make that trip. Then a translator was required to help the father, speaking Urdu and Pashto. The Hebrew-speaking staff at the hospital needed to communicate with Yehia's father.
Finally, a retired rug seller who had left Kabul for Israel 32 years earlier agreed to translate. The surgery was undertaken with a medical team of almost a dozen people. The eight-hour surgery took place near Tel Aviv, at Wolfson Medical Center, Holon. On the completion of the surgery the baby, covered in bandages was wheeled out to see his father.
Sympathetic people surrounded the father, offering empathy and congratulations.
|Doctors from Save a Child’s Heart monitor the catheterization procedure of a six-year-old Haitian boy at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. Photo by Flash90|