Finding Familiarity In An Unlikely Place | An Intern's Perspective on Followthrough

A black and white close-up of a young Iraqi child months after he has life-saving heart surgery

Yusuf is a brave 1-year-old who underwent heart surgery this past March. When his family brought him to the hospital, Yusuf blood had low levels of oxygen that had already tainted his skin blue.

The surgeon needed to fix four heart defects for Yusuf to survive.

But thanks to caring donors and local support, Yusuf is very much alive! You helped Yusuf receive a heart surgery, and, because of you, I was able to visit and make sure his recovery is going well. This is what we call Followthrough.

As we sat down with Yusuf and his family I was overwhelmed with all the cultural differences around me, but there was a strange sense of familiarity as well. Shortly after we sat and talked in Yusuf's living room, his family rolled out a giant feast for us. We ate until we were full, and there was still enough left to feed us for dinner! Then we drank tea, and the refills seemed to be endless. As we drank tea and took photos of Yusuf, his older sister played with him and entertained us with her hilarious faces. Yusuf's grandfather would toss his phone across the living room floor while Yusuf would scoot across the room to return it again and again.

An Iraqi 1-year-old plays on his family's floor months after having life-saving heart surgery

The familiarity I recognized during my visit was the same warm family dynamic and rejoicing I experience with my own family. Even though we ate sitting down on a concrete floor, followed a completely different set of manners, and understood very little of the words spoken, the joy and relationship between these family members was the same as many American families I know. 

We laughed and enjoyed the fact that their son's life had been rescued. At this point in the visit I began to see these faces as my family and friends rather than as distant strangers. 

This family was so grateful for us, for their son, for his surgery, and for a community willing to come together to provide a solution for their needs. I felt the warmth in their home through photos of Yusuf, endless cups of tea, a floor full of food, and a room bursting with smiles. No matter how great the cultural barriers there are some values and moments humanity can rejoice in and enjoy together. These shared moments and values are the most significant puzzle pieces of our own identity.


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Finding Familiarity In An Unlikely Place | An Intern's Perspective on Followthrough
Finding Familiarity In An Unlikely Place | An Intern's Perspective on Followthrough
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