After the New York Times published an article regarding the teaming of Muslim, Christian and Jewish Facebook friends to save the life of an Afghan baby born with a terminal heart defect, many people sent requests and appreciation messages to Farhad Zaheer, the instrumental, heroic Afghan who overcame all obstacles and hardships to facilitate this. Through his Facebook contacts with people all over the world, Farhad succeeded to bring Yahia and his father to an organization in Israel, Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), where Yahia received the heart surgery and medical care he so desperately needed.
About six months ago, Farhad sent a message to Anna Mussman, who once worked in Afghanistan and is now retired in Israel. Farhad explained that Yahia’s condition was so severe that he could not be treated in Afghanistan, India, or Pakistan. Anna contacted SACH’s medical team in Holon, Israel who, after receiving Yahia’s medical reports, agreed to treat him. Anna also contacted Fary Moini who has done considerable philanthropic work in Jalalabad through the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club Foundation in San Diego. Fary agreed to travel to Israel to help take care of Yahia as his father did not speak English. Through this joint effort, the child left to Israel with his father and was successfully operated on in Israel.
Ms. Dia Hadid reported this saga in The New York Times, which received accolades throughout the world. Farhad Zaheer then received many requests from Afghan families about children suffering from heart defects throughout the region. Among those was Mohammad Yaqub who lives in the north of Afghanistan and whose family is of meager means. Farhad received documentation from Yaqub’s father and sent them to SACH. After a medical review, SACH agreed to bring Yaqub to Israel for treatment.
Farhad, along with Dr. Bahauddin, filled out all the forms regarding his medical condition, and facilitated visas for Yaqub and his father. When it was time for Yaqub’s father to travel to Kabul to receive a transit visa from the Turkish Embassy, he apologized and said he could not afford to travel to Kabul nor could he go to Israel for an extended period of time. Yaqub’s father explained that he was a farmer and did not have enough money to travel to Kabul. Also, his family needed basic food provisions while he was away – flour, oil, sugar, etc. – and he could not afford to buy these provisions if he was not on his farm to sell his products. He also needed $160.00 to pay for the Turkish transit visa, an astronomical amount that he could not afford. Once again, Farhad Zaheer came to the rescue! He shared Yaqub’s predicament with an American Christian Facebook friend, Kathleen Thorrez, who kindly donated $350.00 to pay for travel, the transit visa and one month’s food supply for Yaqub’s family. After receiving this generous donation, Yaqub’s father faced another hurdle; he was unable to travel to the Turkish Embassy in Kabul because roads were blocked due to heavy snowfall in the north. Farhad then took official leave from his work as a teacher in Nangarhar and traveled to Kabul on his own. However, both the Turkish Embassy and application centre refused to accept the visa applications as they thought that Farhad might not be a trustworthy representative of Yaqub and his family. Once Farhad realized that he could not convince them otherwise, he asked Fary Moini to interfere through her contacts with the Turkish Consul. It was only then that the Turkish Consulate agreed to facilitate the visas for Yaqub and his father.
Mohammad Yaqub and his father departed Afghanistan on February 14, Valentine’s Day, and will begin treatment immediately upon arrival in Israel. Funded by Save A Child’s Heart, costs for Yaqub’s surgery and care are covered through generous donors and a medical staff at Wolfson Hospital. This includes airline travel, health insurance, hospitalization, domestic transportation, and all other accommodations. Yaqub’s life will be saved, proving that we all have One Big Heart to help others, regardless of race, country or religion.
THE PASHTUN TIMES