People had a lot of questions when my wife and I said we wanted to move to Iraq. Family and friends were (understandably) concerned, and we had to be ready with a response about our work, our safety, and pretty much everything else involved in moving to a war-torn country. Most questions weren't difficult to answer. Some were difficult for people to hear, for sure, but we knew our responses.
But there was one question that took some thinking.
An older man (in front of a crowd of 200 people, I might add) asked, "Why can't you just facilitate the surgeries from the United States? Why do you have to live there?" I remember fidgeting a little and saying something about the importance of caring and equipping in-person. If I had another shot at answering that question, though, I wouldn't fidget: Followthrough would be my answer.
If we're going to put an end to this backlog of sick children, it's going to take the daily training, equipping and relationship-building of our Followthrough team. We could certainly live stateside. It'd probably make fundraising easier, and we could swoop into Iraq like whites in shining armor, save a whole bunch of lives and then make our grand exit.
But that would be more about us than about what the people of Iraq are actually asking for.
Many of Iraq's best and brightest either fled or were killed under Saddam Hussein's regime, and subsequently the nation as a whole suffered a massive braindrain. So what Iraqis need, is training, information, and empowerment to restore their country to what it once was (and beyond!), and that's where Followthrough comes in. We aren't handing out prescriptions and orders, but we are here if they have any questions - and they have a lot! How to bathe a child post-op, which medications to take, how to avoid an infection, and if/when they should go in for post-op checkups are just a few of the many questions parents are asking.
But the medical training is just one part of it all. We want to know the people we're working with and to understand them; their worldview, their joys, their concerns, beliefs and fears. Followthrough is our way of saying no to life in the proverbial ivory tower and yes to an in-the-flesh kind of compassion that ultimately blesses and benefits us as we're working to bless and benefit the people of Iraq.
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