Brad Blauser moved to Baghdad in 2004 as a civilian contractor. But he gave up that job last year. He now provides part-time security consultation in exchange for room and board so he can focus on what has become his mission: trying to find a wheelchair for every Iraqi child that needs one, via his straightforwardly named Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids program. Since 2005, Blauser has delivered more than 650 pediatric wheelchairs, a great help for a country where, according to UNICEF, one in seven Iraqi kids between the ages of 2 and 14 is, in some way, disabled. Like, for example, 3-year-old Ali Khaled Irahim:
At 8 months old, Ali was struck by a mysterious fever that left him partially paralyzed. He cannot speak and experiences increasingly frequent and violent convulsions.
“Ali’s handicap affected the family a lot,” said his father.
His mother said she couldn’t carry out her daily chores and her “psychological state worsened.”
“When I heard the news of the distribution of these advanced wheelchairs, I was very happy deep down,” she said. “I thought maybe that will ease my work as a mother in the way I deal with my son.”
Today, Ali smiles at home as he sits in his new wheelchair. His siblings giggle and sprinkle his face with kisses. The toddler’s parents are thankful for the relief it has brought not only to Ali, but their entire family.
(Thanks to the sharp-eyed FBvian for the link.)