Today is April 17, the birth date of Frank Schnabel, a Californian with hemophilia who founded the World Federation of Hemophilia 44 years ago. I am privileged to be able to spend this important day with our friends in Pakistan!
Julia Long, director of Project SHARE and I are having an exciting and fascinating trip. We arrived on Saturday in Karachi after a 20 hours in transit and within a few hours Julia was having a camel ride by the Arabian sea! On Sunday evening we flew to Islamabad, the capital, in preparation for today. On Monday we toured the government hospital, PIMS, which offers free care to all with hemophilia. I visited this center in April 16, 1999, on my first trip to Islamabad, and on that very day eight years ago helped to open the Rawalpindi chapter in a general meeting with patients, parents and treaters. (Rawalpindi is a town next to Islamabad, and the location of PIMS) It was an incredible feeling to be back, and to see how our initial efforts have blossomed. They not only have a comprehensive treatment center, but a strong, vibrant chapter that could be a role model for other developing countries. Congratulations on this day to this amazing chapter, and to amazing Pakistan!
Today I gave a talk which emphasized what I think Frank Schnabel would have emphasized–unity. Unity among hemophilia communities, unity among chapters, between doctors and patients, between government and the hemophilia society, and between countries with hemophilia. We celebrated with great joy a major success– the government of Pakistan recently has made its first ever purchase of factor for patients! We also noted Project SHARE’s recent 1.6 million unit donation to Pakistan, valued at $1 million. And we announced the opening of Save One Life in Rawalpindi, which will provide needed sponsorships from Americans directly to impoverished Pakistani children with bleeding disorders. We already started Save One Life in Lahore (where I am currently writing this from), and were pleased to now include Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
Later we had a Q&A in which the patients asked great questions. Julia and I were able to meet with many patients and parents; we handed out toys to the children (colorful, inflatable globes to emphasize World Hemophilia Day, compliments of Mark Zatyrka of AHF, Inc.), which the children loved! We had lunch with all 100 patients, took a group photo and with some tears and many smiles, left to visit the stunning Faisal Mosque. Then off to the airport!
Pakistan is an amazing country: descendant from an ancient civilization, with the sixth largest population on earth, and almost completely Muslim. It has expert and compassionate doctors who are dedicated to helping hemophilia patients, and patients who are grateful for all aid. The Pakistanis are grateful to all the Americans who donated factor to SHARE and who have expressed compassion to their suffering and need. Above all, Pakistanis are incredibly gracious people, who treat everyone like honored guests. I have traveled the world, truly, and have rarely met such an amazing and genuine display of civility, manners and hospitality. I guess that is why I keep coming back! This is my fourth visit, and hopefully, just the beginning. We have a lot of work to do, and I would be honored to continue to work with Pakistan. I hope you might join me in supporting their children, who are in need of sponsors.
Please see www.saveonelifeinc.org if you want to learn more! We will soon have about 10 more children in need of sponsorships.
Please tune in tomorrow for more news on our trip!
(Photos: A Great Welcome from the Rawalpindi Chapter, Julia and Dr. Samina with the donation of factor from Project SHARE, Laurie and Julia at the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, A Islamabad Street Scene, Laurie with mothers after her presentation on hemophilia A, group photo of patients, doctors, Laurie and Julia on WHD in Rawalpindi, Umer, a beneficiary of Save One Life, and his family)