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A Mother’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency

Please hear from Emily O’Connor, Intensive Case Specialist in our DuPage Office:

I met Usman Ghareeb and his mother, Madina, in February 2022. They had just arrived in the U.S. a couple of months before in the wake of the crisis in Afghanistan. Usman was born with what was later confirmed to be cerebral palsy without ability to communicate or move independently, as he was non-verbal and non-ambulatory.

Usman had intensive medical needs, but the family had more obstacles beyond Usman’s care. Usman’s father, Ahmad, had lost a leg in a bombing from the Taliban. Ahmad had to focus his energy and time on learning how to walk with a prosthetic before he could begin working in the U.S. Madina was found to be pregnant with her fourth child soon after arriving in the U.S. While they were filled with joy for the new life to come, this also brought added worry because she was to the primary caretaker for Usman and his needs along with their other two, soon-to-be three, young children.

When the family first arrived in the office, pregnant Madina carried her nine-year old son Usman on her back since Ahmad could not support weight on his single leg. Their needs were both large and small, from intensive medical treatments to the practical need of a stroller to push Usman around in. We quickly enrolled them in the 2-year intensive case management program and World Relief connected them with an incredible volunteer team who jumped in to help with the families’ many needs. They put together funds to get a stroller and wheelchair for Usman, throw a baby shower for his mother, and took the family to countless doctor appointments. Our volunteers truly are amazing – living and breathing care and grace to those who need it most!

Recently I sat down with Madina and recounted the goals we had made a year and a half ago for Usman. We welled up with tears as we realized how much has been accomplished!

In this span, she was able to establish care with a pediatric neurologist, a genetic specialist, gastroenterologist, nutritionist, surgical specialist, PCP, pediatric dentist, pediatric rehabilitation specialist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and countless school support aides and nurses! Volunteers went with her for many doctors’ visits – some even in Chicago from the suburbs – and helped to empower Usman and his family to access the best medical care they could find.

Madina went from not being able to walk into a doctor’s office without fear and panicking, to confidently managing all his medical follow up and communicating with doctors. At first, she didn’t know how to request an interpreter, but now she can speak English so confidently that she helps her friends schedule appointments for their own children. She went from needing to be driven to each appointment with her son to learning how to drive and getting a driver’s license so she can take him to the three or four appointments a week by herself!

Not every family that comes to the U.S. has this many needs, but we are so grateful that your support through donations and volunteer time make these vulnerabilities vanish as these families are empowered and reach self-sufficiency. Thank you for seeing lasting change happen in the Ghareeb family!

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