Amed Omar has volunteered for us for more than two years. Amed invested heavily each day into the kids, showed an eagerness to use his knowledge of English and local languages to help in the training of local nurses in the Intensive Care Unit.
As our first Remedy Mission has played out in Iraq over the last two weeks, we have been extremely encouraged by the number of people coming out, emailing, and calling in hopes of giving what they can as volunteers to assist in the effort.
For years, a lack of voluntarism and a sense of entitlement among many throughout Iraq has caused us great concern for the future of crowd-sourced charitable organizations like ours. In Iraq many sit back and wait for the government to do it all. Too few go the extra mile of engaging the process, flexing their creativity, and creating the change that they ostensibly want to see.
But that is decidedly not how it was this week with Remedy Mission.
We had 17 volunteers come out at some time or another to see the children, play with them, donate time, goods, and money, translate, function in administrative roles, write, advocate, promote, and - perhaps most importantly - become personally invested in the long-term drama of creating a long-term local solution for children in Iraq waiting in line for lifesaving heart surgery.
In addition to the 17 who actually came and volunteered, we had another six on a waiting list that we simply could not absorb. We had to turn local Arab and Kurdish volunteers away!
Shahad Mohammad was a first-time volunteer with us this Remedy Mission after making friends with some of our summer interns. Shahad persisted in seeking volunteer opportunities, played with the kids, translated into Arabic, and involved others in her community in our work.
As we look to the future of charitable and social services in Iraq, we are encouraged by the diversity of youth and adults, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds that comprised our volunteer group these last two weeks for our Remedy Mission.
If we can continue to generate this degree of local support and leverage the good intentions and much-needed hands and feet of the people of Iraq, the kids of Iraq (where we live at least) are going to be fine under the care of their local volunteers, government and healthcare professionals.
Remedy Missions are international pediatric heart surgery teams that we bring to Iraq to to perform lifesaving heart surgeries and develop the infrastructure for the future. If you’re on Twitter this week be sure to use the #Remedy or #RemedyMission hashtag to describe all the good news coming out of Iraq this week via @preemptivelove and @babyheart_org. If you’re on Facebook, “Share” this story with the button below.
Photos by Heber Vega.