What a productive, impactful season for Solace for the Children! We want to share a few stories of the children you support!
Rahman came to Solace suffering terrible burns that covered the front of his body from his chin almost to his waist. Before he was discovered in his small village, he had lain in bed for about 5 months with no medical care. His chin was healing to his chest and his arms were attaching to his body. Not only was he in great pain, but he was losing function of both arms and his neck. Worse, he was losing hope of ever being healthy again. Patrolling marines found him, began to treat him even as they identified Rahman to Solace for the Children. Rahman returned home to his father last week, fully healthy! Sitting with Rahman waiting for his next airline connection on his return trip he shared with me several profound ideas he would take back to Afghanistan with him. Here are a few of his thoughts…
“I know now that all people can be good and I should help all people. When I see a boy that is not like me fallen in the street, I will pick him up and take him to his home.”
“Skin color does not make a person good or bad. It just makes them a person.”
“We can have one family or many families from many places - all that love us and want us to care more for all people.”
Rahim will arrive this month, several years after one leg was lost to a bomb and the other was badly damaged. Just the announcement that someone cared enough about him to try to help him regain an ability to walk without crutches was incredible. This young man is from one of the most violent areas of Afghanistan. We hope to help him regain a leg and his sense of peace and hope!
A group of twelve children will arrive this month for six weeks of treatment. Among the children are a victim of a suicide bomber, three heart patients, several orthopedic patients and even a little girl whose jaws are locked in place. The parents of these children are trusting us to treat their small bodies and lovethem like our own.
It will be exciting to tell you more about their experiences soon!
2011 was a great year for offering healing to the children of Afghanistan! More than 50 children were treated and returned home to their loving families! I was honored to travel to Afghanistan in December with two Solace Extended participants who were returning home. We also were delighted to meet with several of the Solace Alumni and their families to hear more about how Solace had impacted the child, the family and many times the community in which they live.
Mahboba came to Solace in 2009 Solace Summer Program. After the possible treatment was complete, it was clear the most important gift we could offer this beautiful girl was an education. Her area did not offer her an opportunity to learn, so Solace found a way to hire a teacher to come to her. Now Mahboba and her siblings all benefit! Solace sees this as a great benefit to us all. Any time a child is educated we all benefit!
Ashraf has been an Extended Program participant with major orthopedic work accomplished. His family traveled over dangerous roads for many miles to welcome him home! The celebration began immediately and followed Ashraf back into the streets of his own village! With your gifts to Solace, you have helped change Ashraf's corner of the world!
Solace children come from cities and from the remotest areas of Afghanistan! Sana, 2010 Solace alumni, stands in the kitchen of her village home helping her aunt cook bread in the out of ground tandoori.
On our last night in Afghanistan, we were eating with friends in the dark (no power that night) when we heard men shouting loudly in the streets. As the shouting grew louder, the guard went out to discover the reason. Quickly we learned the shouting was prayers offered up and down the street for the safety and well being of there families and their homes! A lunar eclipse was darkening the moon and fear was sweeping the streets. I couldn't help but think that anytime darkness invades the lives of good people, prayers should be shouted! Prayers for peace and wholeness and love to overtake us all!
Now we turn our efforts to the children who need us in 2012, we invite you to shout out prayers of peace and healing! We invite you to join Solace for the Children as we build peace on a foundation of health!
Before 7-year-old Azad had the hole in heart fixed, running made his nails and lips turn blue. Going to school made them turn blue. Eating made them turn blue. His heart was unable to supply enough oxygen to his blood, making simple tasks very difficult for him.
Now Azad begs his mom for cakes and munches enthusiastically while rough-housing with his brother. He runs wild laps around the courtyard outside his family's home in Kabul, Afghanistan, his arms out-stretched like an airplane -- he wants to be a pilot when he grows up.
"Before the surgery he could not eat so well. His nails and lips would start to get darker. He couldn't play with the other children," said Azad's father, through a translator. "We sent him to school but it was so hard for him -- he always had to take breaks."
Azad was born with a congenital heart defect. He would likely die if it could not be surgically repaired. There were no doctors and no hospitals in Afghanistan that could help him; but that's when Azad's parents found Solace for the Children.
Azad was one of nearly 60 Afghan children who traveled to the United States this summer for medical care. Solace arranged for Azad's transport to a Solace Community where he stayed with an American host family, and received his surgery from Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
Azad returned to Kabul in August with a healthier heart and two huge suitcases stuffed with medications and a year's supply of baby aspirin. Employees in Solace's Kabul office helped Azad's parents understand how and when to give him medicine.
"Now, it's better. We are so happy," Azad's father said, smiling.
When asked about his time in the U.S., Azad doesn't mention anything about the surgery. Instead he says, bashfully, with newly-learned English words: "I like ice cream." His favorite flavor? "Chocolate." From now on it will be ice cream -- not running, playing or studying -- that turns Azad's lips blue.
Many of you will remember Homa and her fight to end the leak of spinal fluid. Our Solace Medical Partners soon learned the problem was more urgent. Brain matter had begun to escape into her sinus cavities. With skilled hands and the support of a loving Solace Community, Homa came through surgery with great hope for her future! She should be able to return to her loving family in a few short weeks.
Young Noor Jahan is also moving closer to a place of health. With serious urological treatment needed, her treatment will need to be done in stages allowing time for healing and reconnecting with family until time for the next stage of treatment. We are celebrating the hope that has returned to her eyes and the joy of her family!
We need your continuing support to now find a place for Shamsullah! Shamsullah is an 11-year-old boy from Nuristan province in northeastern Afghanistan who suffers from a condition called bladder exstrophy, Shamsullah was born in Afghanistan with part of his bladder outside his body, a condition that means he has been cast off by his family and barred from attending school.
Shamsullah’s mother is a widow and a farmer in Nuristan. She brought him to Kabul after his father died and she was no longer able to support him and her three other children. For the last few months, Shamsullah has lived with Solace staff or in the Solace office. “Shamsullah is a very good boy. He is very respectful and very calm,” said one staff member who has taken him into her home.
Although he is 11 Shamsullah has never been to school because the teachers will not allow him to attend with his condition. The security guard at the Solace office has taken time out to teach Shamsullah basic math. Shamsullah is a bright student and aside from the bladder exstrophy doctors say he is a normal, healthy boy. He likes to play sports and wants to go to school.
“If my condition gets fixed that would make me the happiest person in the world,” Shamsullah shyly tells us.
Shamsullah needs a host family and a medical team willing to partner with us to restore Shamsullah's health and hope! Will you help?
What an incredible time of healing and hope! Beginning in early June small groups of Afghan children begin to arrive for much needed medical treatment. Your support has allowed children to receive life saving open-heart surgery, urological surgery and neurological surgery. Other children received treatment for burn scars, prosthetic limbs, and crippling orthopedic conditions! What a privilege to watch these children blossom under the love and nurture of professionals, community volunteers and the wonderful Solace host families!
While most of the children have returned to their homes within Afghanistan, others remain to continue treatment and still others wait for their chance to arrive in a Solace Community and begin treatment that will lead to health and hope!
While the children may not know each of your faces, they know that it is because of almost 2,000 caring Americans that this chance is possible!
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