Skip to comments.Troops fund Iraqi baby's gift of sight
Posted on 12/12/2009 6:08:04 PM PST by SandRat
Upon hearing of her plight some months ago, Soldiers with Troop C, 150th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, jumped into action to try and help her.
According to 1st Lt. Jason Hickman, a platoon leader in Troop C, it seemed as if things fell into place right from the start. He said it was a perfect example of divine intervention, as his convoy made a wrong turn five months ago, ending up in Zwaynat, a small village southwest of Baghdad.
Baby Nourah was there visiting with her uncle, Muhameed Gharbi Sultan, who spoke with Hickman, informing him of the baby's plight.
"So there we were at a place we hadn't intended on being," said Hickman. "Wrong turn, perhaps, but that's not how I see it. My interest and contacts with the Order of Saint John [charity organization], the wrong turn, her being there with her uncle instead of with her parents in Baghdad, no, not a coincidence."
According to their website, the Order of St. John is a major international charity, accredited to the United Nations, whose organizations provide first aid, health care and support services in over 40 countries around the world. The Order's charitable work is carried out by the St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem. The Order of St John traces its origins back 900 years to the Knights Hospitaller from whom St John today derives its inspiration and maxims – Pro Fide Pro Utilitate Hominum, 'For the Faith and in the Service of Humanity.'
"I don't believe in the traditional sense of the word destiny, but I do believe that God puts people in certain places at certain times," said Hickman. "Things don't happen solely by coincidence. All you have to do is look for the road signs.
"The signs were clear; so I sent some emails and that's how we arrived here," he said.
Once Nourah was diagnosed, Hickman emailed St. John's Jerusalem Eye Hospital, the main provider of eye care in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, a cause he has contributed to in the past.
Through contact with Ruth Ann Skaff, the U.S. Executive Director of the Priory of St John's, Hickman was referred to Dr. Mehyar, of the Khalidi Medical Center in Amman, Jordan, where the procedure was performed.
They created a plan for Nourah, and Hickman emailed his family and asked for donations from Soldiers of the brigade. Family and friends from his hometown of Greenville, W. Va., Belmont, W. Va., where he grew up, and St. Marys, W.Va., were the main contributors of the $5,000 needed to help Baby Nourah.
From that point on he was determined to help her, as even in his darkest hour Hickman said he thought of Nourah.
"Lieutenant Hickman's father passed away as we were working out all the details for Nourah," said Staff Sgt. Travers Brake, of Elkins, W. Va., who took over the campaign while Hickman was on emergency leave. "He asked for the guys in the platoon to give donations to Nourah in lieu of sending flowers. Now that's special."
Hickman’s unit was invited to a small celebration, Dec. 9, hosted by Baby Nourah’s family in appreciation for setting up and covering expenses for the baby’s eye surgery, Nov. 15, three days after her first birthday.
During the celebration, Hickman, who didn't get to see Nourah immediately following her surgery, finally was able to hold the baby he introduced to the brigade and a lot of caring people back in West Virginia.
Dressed in a plush pink puppy dog snow suit, accessorized with a yellow and pink hat and little yellow rimmed glasses, Baby Nourah made her rounds at the celebration, oblivious to her stardom. She looked around, waved and stared at some of the people instrumental in giving her such a special gift.
Nourah's paternal grandfather, Oudah Ghardi Sultan al-Jubori, said she has to go back for a checkup in a month and she has to wear glasses for five years; a small sacrifice for a lifetime of imagery.
"We are very grateful to you," said Jubori. "At one time [Iraqi's and U.S. Soldiers] could not sit and talk like this [without wearing armored vest and helmets], now we are very close. You should visit more. Please come back and visit before you go back to the States."
Hickman, Brake and the elders of Nourah's family shared a traditional Iraqi meal together, drank tea and talked late into the evening; laughing and joking like old-time acquaintances.
Since the operation, family members said she crawls, grabs for things and follows hands, fingers and objects that are placed in front of her. Baby Nourah, with her big pouty cheeks and little cherry lips, now quietly absorbs her surroundings and responds at will.
"The Lord may not push you around the board like a pawn, but every now and again he puts you where he wants you," said Hickman. "We were supposed to end up in Zwaynat that night; it was just up to us what we were going to do when we got there."
(By Spc. Ruth McClary, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team)
Damnit, AMERICAN troopers are some of the best people in the world.
And if Obowzo wants to continue to deny American exceptionalism, he can go to hell (and most likely will).
Have your hankie handy ping.
Did you copy Murtha on this story?
In the history of the world, show me another example where individuals in an army mounted fund raising events, often making substantial contributions from their own meager paychecks, to help needy individuals in a native population, or go way out of their way to so much as help a single dog. Happens all the time with the American soldier. Show me where a Nazi soldier or a Soviet soldier, or damn it, a French soldier (before Americans set the example for them) ever did such a thing. No, it'd never occur to them in a million years. And we're the bad guys. Riiiiiiiiiight.
I’m blocked from doing that — just kidding. lol
Thanks for posting this!
Thanks for posting this. BTTT.
Fantastic story showing the deeply abiding goodness of our military personnel. I agree that God somehow executed that wrong turn.
Fantastic story. Thanks for posting. Very uplifting. Our military are the best.
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