Shahed is a gorgeous, 13-year old girl who is one of six siblings. The family lives in a small village near Ramallah. Shahed was born with many problems which sadly worsened as she grew older. As a result, Shahed requires dialysis three times a week. She is accompanied to Augusta Victoria hospital by her wonderful Mom, Abir. Prior to having contact with Humans without Borders, they travelled by public taxi to Ramallah, caught a bus to East Jerusalem and then another bus to the hospital. Needless to say, Abir is extremely grateful for the assistance we provide.
I have been driving Shahed and Abir from the hospital back to Qalandia every Saturday for the last seven months, and since Abir grew up in the States and is fluent in English, it was very easy to create a close bond.
At the beginning of January, Abir mentioned that Shahed’s birthday would be during the following week. I pondered about what I could do to celebrate the event and make Shahed and her mom happy. Since I am a teacher at the “Hand in Hand, Bilingual High School”, it was quite easy for me to get a few students involved in the celebration. They immediately went out and bought beautiful gifts, two other students arranged an array of balloons, and the school provided us with a cake. With the permission of the principal of the school and the students’ parents, we set off to the hospital.
We surprised Shahed at the entrance to the hospital with the gifts, balloons and cake, and sang Happy Birthday to her in Arabic and English. Although very shy and seldom showing her emotions, Shahed was very excited, and grinning from ear to ear. The celebration attracted lots of people who joined us in the event. Abir and Shahed took us around the hospital and showed us where she has her treatment. We departed with hugs and kisses.
My students were very moved and couldn’t believe just how sick the children undergoing treatment in the hospital are.