This week we were privileged to assist in obtaining medical treatment for a very special boy in Morocco. Little Hassan (pictured) fell and injured his thumb near his home in early August. We first met him during our September school aid distribution project at the local school that he attends. He was one of more than 100 students we worked with that day, but his joyful spirit and infectious smile immediately caught our eye. However, we noticed that his entire thumb was purple, seemingly out of joint and hanging completely limp. We spoke with his family, who had taken the boy to a doctor for xrays, though they had not been successful in getting him treatment.
Little Hassan receiving his school supplies during our September aid distribution trip in Morocco
Hassan's family raises livestock and he lives with his mother, father, sister and elders in a traditional Berber home in a remote area between Essaouira and Marrakech. His family was incredibly welcoming to us and offered their home as a teaching site for us to give soapmaking classes. They cooked a delicious Moroccan meal composed of several courses which was obviously meant to honor the presence of visitors. We spent the afternoon breaking bread together, visiting cows, sheep and donkeys and socializing with the local women. Though we inquired about the problem with Hassan's finger, they offered their hospitality without us making any mention of potentially assisting with his medical treatment.
When the sun set and we climbed into our car and began to pull away, I asked Hassane (our local staff member in Morocco) if he would oversee the boy's care. Hassane told me he was already planning to assist as he was able and we developed a plan to get Little Hassan the treatment he needed. The following week, Hassane took the boy back to the small hospital in Essaouira for a consultation. The doctors advised that he be treated at the larger hospital in Marrakech. Hassane returned Little Hassane's family home and agreed to take them shortly to Marrakech. Unfortunately, those doctors said it would be several months before they could operate. Though Little Hassan was in no pain as he doesn't have any feeling in his thumb, he was at risk for gangrene, which can cause serious, life-threatening septic infections.
Volunteer and travel mate Stephanie playing with Hassan and friends at his home
Hassane opted to return the boy to Essaouira once more and pleaded for help. He eventually called with good news: surgery was scheduled for October 24th. As that day approached, Hassane welcomed the boy's family into his home (which is near to the hospital) and we were all eager for resolution. On the day of the procedure, the surgeon asked Hassane to please return the boy to Marrakech once more as he didn't feel as though he could adequately perform the operation. Hassane called and proposed that we consider the private hospital in Marrakech- which would be considerably more expensive, but much, much faster.
Some of the sheep Hassan's family raises to provide for their family
The very next day, doctors at the private hospital in Marrakech saw Little Hassan and, confident that they could save his finger, scheduled surgery for 6:30pm the same day. I am thrilled to say that Hassan's finger is intact, he is in good spirits and resting comfortably at home with his family. He spent just one night in the hospital, with his father by his side and Hassane nearby. The doctors cleared him the very next day after a positive radiology exam and Hassane took the lot of them home to celebrate with the boy's waiting mother. The prognosis is very good: in another ten days, Hassane will return the boy to Marrakech for a followup visit. For now, Little Hassan can attend school though it will be quite some time before he may be able to write again.
Hassan's little sister Khadija playing with a lamb
This endeavor is all the more amazing to me when I consider the distances traveled and the dedication displayed. Neither our staff member Hassane nor Little Hassan's family own cars. The distance between Essaouira and Marrakech is three hours by car, and the boy's family is a good 30 minute journey over rock-ridden, treacherous and unpaved roads once you exit the highway that connects those two major cities. So getting this boy the treatment he needed involved lots of early mornings and late nights and long walks to main roads and bumpy bus rides. And yet...they persevered. And it worked! And now Little Hassan is safe and in the process of healing. I love a happy ending... don't you?
The sale of our products is what funds these important projects, so I extend my appreciation to those of you reading as well. It's a fantastic feeling to know that we've positively impacted a life and filled a tangible need. I hope you'll continue to support our endeavors by making purchases if you are able and inclined and spreading the word about the work that we do. We'll keep you posted on Little Hassan!
The oven where Hassan's mother bakes bread each morning