A Boy To Remember

By Eileen Tye

I recall being fascinated when I was a kid by the Reader’s Digest feature called “My Most Unforgettable Character” that appeared in every issue. It was always an inspirational description of someone living up to his potential, and I admit to meeting some real interesting people in those pages. As an adult I’ve known several “Most Unforgettable” people but only now have I met “My” most unforgettable character.

For security reasons I will not use his real name; let’s call him Mohammed. This case was brought to the attention of The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation by a nurse, who in working as an international public health consultant in Afghanistan came to know Mohammed and his story. Through her frequent communica-
tions, we learned the stunning details of the case and we embraced the urgency of finding treatment for Mohammed. This kind, caring nurse would become the boy’s Angel during the trying times he would face on his journey to find a new life.

This is what we know. In 2000, Mohammed was crushed beneath falling walls when a rocket hit his house. He was only 5 years old and would never walk again. His mother had died from tuberculosis just 2 weeks before his injury and his father, a commander in a group of Mujahadeen fighting first against the Russians and then the Taliban, was the likely target of the rocket blast. The father used his military rank to arrange hospital treatment for his son and then attempted to provide for the boy’s care by paying a returning refugee to become his guardian. However, the father was soon overwhelmed and stopped payments to the man. But out of a sense of duty to a higher calling and because of a real fondness for Mohammed, the impoverished refugee obtained a job as a hospital cleaner, sleeping in the hospital basement, just to be with the child who had never been discharged from that medical institution.

Mohammed, housed in a small corner bed in the main surgical ward, quickly became the mascot and social director of the ward, supervising and orchestrating activities. His social skills were apparent immediately to even the most casual observer. He rapidly taught himself English and had a capable command of Italian; he could easily interact with foreign relief workers as well as the hospital staff. Mohammed’s ward was known as the best in the hospital because of its charming “Executive Director”. A doctor who knew him told us that he had a quick smile, a good heart, a strong soul, and everlasting curiosity. He said that even though the boy is bound to his wheelchair and lives in a hospital, he has taken control of his own life, setting strong goals for himself and following his ambitions.

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