OBALAT + NENEB
Child Medical Mission | Nineveh, Iraq
Obalat was born into war. By the time he was eight years old, he had endured serious physical injuries sustained in the crossfire of war.
As he grew, Obalat’s physical wounds would cause permanent deformities, leading to a progressively debilitating state. Obalat’s injuries would require serious medical attention, but the necessary surgical procedures were no longer available in the war-torn region that left the nation’s medical infrastructure in ruins.
His parents sought help, first in their cities and later in Baghdad, but the answer was always the same: Child-patient requires a surgical procedure that is beyond the medical capabilities available in the region.
Undaunted, Obalat’s family spread their efforts to religious institutions, international humanitarian aid organizations, and domestic relief agencies, during several grueling months of diminishing hopes. Obalat, a spunky four-year-old boy who endeared himself to nurses, doctors, and caseworkers alike. Despite his condition, he always offered a smile and a welcoming gesture to any person who approached him.
At 13 years of age, Neneb’s maturity level revealed the years of hardship children from war-torn regions must endure. He answered the medical teams questions in short, blunt sentences. Despite knowing that help had arrived, both children knew that help was not assured.
Veterans Rebuilding Life was contacted through VRL Director of Child Projects; Lt. Marikay Satryano, whose military experience with international civil affairs makes her the authority on all VRL humanitarian operations involving children. Lt. Satryano was told that time was running out. Either the boys receive treatment within the next few months, or they would be declared a medical loss.
VRL scrambled to contact surgical associates in California, and launched overnight fundraising campaigns to raise the total cost of travel for the two boys, from Iraq to the U.S. where they could receive the medical attention the required, by an all volunteer medical staff. Both surgeries were successful. Today, the boys are back home leading a normal and healthy life. Regardless of what their future holds, they are both grateful for this second chance at life a handful of strangers provided, a world away.