Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sometimes things happen in the realm of miracles............

Today while working in my office, I was told to we had a visitor - Fakhreia and her mother and grandmother had arrived. There was great excitement. I was told I must come downstairs to meet them. Here’s her story……..

Fakhreia is 7 years old. She was born with a serious heart defect and was not expected to live. Miraculously she made it to her 7th year at which point she was identified to be part of the SOLACE program, a program based in Charlotte, NC that raises funds to bring children identified with life-threatening illnesses from Afghanistan to the U.S. for treatment. This is a tremendous undertaking as you can imagine and involves arranging visas, identifying “flight leaders” who are SOLA students, (The SOLA students, as part of their leadership training, stay with the students, help translate for the doctors and keep in contact with the child’s family) finding host families for each child (last year they brought 34 children over for treatment) and selecting doctors willing to donate their services. Each child stays in the U.S. for at least 4-6 weeks, sometimes longer, if needed.

Fakhreia arrived in the U.S. early last summer with her flight leader, Husnia. Afghan doctors were unable to diagnose her condition and after careful diagnoses by American doctors, it was determined that she needed open heart surgery. It was the only way she could survive. SOLACE could not find a surgeon/cardiologist team who could perform the needed surgery. She returned home, still very ill. At that point, given her condition she was able to only walk a few steps without being completely exhausted. Everyone was keenly aware of the seriousness of her condition. In late August, the SOLACE folks identified a cardiologist and surgeon willing to perform the open heart surgery needed to save her life.

In early October, after having recovered from a successful operation and well enough to travel, Fahkreia returned to Afghanistan with Husnia and was met by her most grateful family. Today she arrived here at the SOLA compound a happy, normal child. Her prognosis: she is expected to live a normal, healthy life. (The photo is of Husnia and her “little sister” Fahkreia, taken today.)

I watched her mother and grandmother today as we took pictures and fussed over Fakhreia. They were so, so happy and so relieved. As a mother, I thought about how incredibly hard it would be for me to part with my 7 year old child, not knowing if she would survive. I thought about the courage it took for Fahkreia to leave her country and her family and the trust she put in Husnia and the trust Fahkreia’s family put in the Americans who were going to take care of her. I thought about the hundreds of people from Afghanistan to North Carolina who were involved in making this small miracle happen. People who are really doing good work, making things happen, changing lives, working towards a common good. It is inspiring and I’m happy to be able to witness it firsthand.

This is most certainly not what you hear about in the news. It’s not the picture that’s painted about Afghanistan. Each day I hear about more and more people from around the world who are working here, working hand in hand with Afghans to improve life here, build opportunities for a better life for everyone.
Today, as they were leaving, I asked Husnia if Fahkreia was scared during the operation. “No”, she said. “She took it all in stride. When they took her into ICU after the operation, the nurses asked her if she wanted anything. Her response was – a cheeseburger!”
I just had to share this story with you. I seem to find myself daily faced with new surprises! Thanks for reading along. It's nice to be able to share these stories with you.


  1. Hi, Louise, Good to hear your news; I wish there were more stories like this one about Fahkrei in the news--it makes Kabul seem like a real place, and one where we might play a positive role. Glad to hear of progress with the songbook.
    Mary Holbrow

  2. Hi Louise! What a trip you are having so far. I can't imagine what it would be like to be visiting a place such as this from 40 year ago. The changes must be truly astounding! SOLA sounds like an amazing organization. I am glad you are safe and in good hands. From Boston: Rachel stayed with Chile and I spent the weekend (when not racing) with Joe and Michael. We came in 3rd but had a good race. Cold, wind but clear on race day. Cold, wind and snow on Sunday! Hope your weather stays warm and sunny like the hearts of the children you are visiting! BJ

  3. Louise once again it is so nice to follow your experiences and have you share these stories with us.
    Khoda Hafez