February 10, 2012
A year ago, when Aman ki Asha and Rotary International launched the Heart to Heart initiative aiming to send underprivileged children from Pakistan to undergo heart surgery in India, completely free of cost, perhaps none of those involved fully comprehended the scope and the depth of this project.
Almost immediately after the launch, we were inundated with hundreds of applications from all corners of Pakistan. Scores of people, from different walks of life, with one shared hope: to save their children’s lives.
It was then that I started to realise the dire need that exists in our society. The dearth of facilities that results from far too many precious resources being funnelled away from the avenues that sustain us the most, towards military and defence budgets. Towards maintaining a constant state of cold war, waged not only against our stated enemy, but against ourselves.
Heart to Heart is the antithesis of this cold war. It is a way of reaching out to people on the most simple and essential level, beyond rhetoric, beyond the baggage of history and real politik. It takes us back to what is common to all peoples, our unalienable right to health and the future of our children.
In the past year, we have seen much success. Children who could scarce afford the treatment they needed were saved by the kindness of strangers from across the border, through the generous funds of Rotarians and the tireless effort of Indian doctors. This programme has not only healed hearts, it has also mended fences. It has given hope when sometimes there was none – the hope of a family reunited, the future of a child, and of a day when neighbours reach out and help one another when they are most needed.
Sadly, there have been some tragedies, too. On behalf of Aman ki Asha and the Rotary Club, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those children who could not benefit from this programme, or perhaps were unable to get to it in time. The very nature of some illnesses was beyond out best efforts and intentions. There are no words in such situations.
But we continue to do what we can, where we can. In the past year, over 60 children have successfully received heart surgeries in India. They included five-year old Akash who travelled from Lahore to Delhi to undergo heart surgery and return with a fresh chance at life. There was two-and-a-half year old Abdul Rehman, whom doctors affectionately dubbed ‘the miracle child’. Abdul Rehman received a heart surgery to treat a complex congenital heart condition in Durgapur, India. Weakened by ailment, he slipped into a coma after the surgery. He remained in a deep coma for over a month. But the medical team led by Dr. Satyajit Bose refused to give up. Abdul Rehman awakened in his hospital bed last month. He had left Pakistan almost two months ago, pale and weak. He has recently returned healthy, healed and hopeful.
Inspired by Abdul Rehman’s story, and by the miracles that unfold when we co-operate, Aman ki Asha and Rotary
International are continuing to expand upon this initiative. We will send 140 more children to India for heart surgery over the next year. We have invited Dr. Bose to come to Pakistan in March this year, and organise a free clinic where children can be tested for various congenital heart defects. We are coordinating the reciprocal exchange of doctors and of health workers from Pakistan and India so we
can learn from one another, work together and grow together.
We wish to sincerely thank all of our doctors and our donors who have helped make so many dreams a reality. We look forward to continuing to work together to a help build a world of peace and health for the people of the sub-continent and for our children.
– Laleh Habib
Project Coordinator, Aman ki Asha, Pakistan