Friday, September 21, 2007

Update - other side of war

Last month posted an article, can read from here

Here is the latest news from for the above story.

Just want to say thank you and i salute the American public for love and donation you all have shown to this child and family. God bless all of you.

U.S. soldier: I cried for Youssif

SHERMAN OAKS, California (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier who served in Iraq was so moved by the story of Youssif he had to do something.

A young girl wrote Youssif a note and enclosed $1 to help his family. One person sent a check for $45,000.

1 of 2 more photos » "I thought I was tough," the soldier wrote the Children's Burn Foundation. "But when I read the story about Youssif, I cried."

The soldier's reaction was like that of more than 13,000 others who opened their pocketbooks to help the 5-year-old Iraqi boy who was doused in gas by masked men and set on fire on January 15.

One person sent a check for $45,000; another mailed in $10,000. Most were much smaller contributions, ranging from $5 to $100. Each was equally appreciated, said Barbara Friedman, the foundation's executive director.

Donations came in from across the globe, from England to Lebanon to the United States. Many of the donors were members of the U.S. military, she said. Others were children.

"I feel really bad for what happened," one young girl said in a handwritten note. She included a dollar bill.

A mother sent this: "As a mom myself, I cannot imagine the pain you and your family have gone through. Please know that you are not alone."

See how you can make a difference
The generosity has been so great that Friedman said she's been left "literally in disbelief."

The foundation had estimated it would cost $300,000 to provide Youssif and his family all the costs associated with his surgeries, medical care, living expenses and whatever else they might need. See Youssif's transformation »

The donations have far surpassed that amount, according to the foundation. Youssif's parents have asked that any extra money be used to help other burn survivors.

"I'm just blown away by the outpouring of support for this boy and this family," said Doug Mancino, the foundation's board chairman. "I've never seen anything like it."

He also praised the parents' generosity. The extra money will go to help other children with things like reconstructive surgeries and pressurized masks to much smaller help like transportation costs for low-income families to visit their children in the hospital.

"It's a real gift from this family that will benefit many, many other children," he said. Watch Youssif meet Spiderman »

The foundation worked to bring Youssif, his parents and his younger sister to the United States. They found an Islamic community in the Los Angeles area to help the family adjust to their months here. They put the family in an apartment complex where other Iraqis live.

Their job now will be to help Youssif get the psychological care he needs after suffering such trauma. Dr. Peter Grossman, the surgeon donating his services, will work on his physical looks. The foundation will work on his long-term emotional care.

"One of the goals in taking care of Youssif's emotional well-being is helping him become a boy again, helping him feel safe," said Keely Quinn, the foundation's program director.

Soon, Youssif will go on an outing to the zoo with about 40 other burn survivors in the Los Angeles area, thanks to the foundation.

From their nondescript offices, the foundation organizers sent a message for others. As horrific as Youssif's story is, many burns are easily preventable.

An estimated 250,000 children are burned every year in the United States seriously enough to require hospitalization, the foundation said. Most of those will be children under the age of 5; about 65 percent will be scald burns.

Keep a close eye on your children around stoves and ovens, they advised. It just takes one second for spilled coffee to cause a third-degree burn, Friedman said.

As for Youssif, he's a special boy they'll never forget. His story began with the utter depravity of mankind -- an attack on a defenseless child -- but has transformed into a story about the best of humanity.

"It's overwhelming in a good way," Quinn said.

Or maybe Francisco Saenz put it best when he wrote the foundation. "All I can say to you, from the bottom of my heart, is THANK YOU, YOU ARE AN ANGEL, GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION."

It's the same message Youssif's mother, Zainab, has given them. It's the same message she has for all those inspired by her son. "Thank you."

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