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TWE Radio Encore Podcasts: March 1,2 2014

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Paola Gianturco, documentary photographer who has captured the global phenomenon of Grandmother Power, the title of her new book

Paola Gianturco, author of "Grandmother Power"

Paola Gianturco

 

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Elissa Montanti, whose one woman mission is to heal the injured children of the world and who writes about it in I’ll Stand By You

Elissa Montanti, founder of Global Medical Relief Fund that provides treatment for war-wounded children

Elissa Montanti

 

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TWE Radio ‘Best Of’ Podcasts: July 27,28 2013

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Paola Gianturco, documentary photographer who has captured the global phenomenon of Grandmother Power, the title of her new book

Paola Gianturco, author of "Grandmother Power"

Paola Gianturco

 

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Elissa Montanti, whose one woman mission is to heal the injured children of the world and who writes about it in I’ll Stand By You

Elissa Montanti, founder of Global Medical Relief Fund that provides treatment for war-wounded children

Elissa Montanti

 

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Elissa Montanti Provides Hope And A Future To More War-Injured Children

Elissa Montanti, Global Medical Relief Fund, and Marzia from Afghanistan

Elissa and Marzia leave a Long Island hospital after her operation

By Pamela Burke/December 29, 2012
Photos from the Global Medical Relief Fund

We introduced you to Elissa Montanti on our radio show and website this fall when her book, I’ll Stand By You–One Woman’s Mission to Heal the Children of the World was released.  She told us about starting the non-profit Global Medical Relief Fund from her closet on Long Island with one child, Kenan, who had lost one arm and both legs in a land mine accident and how more than 150 children had followed him to her “Dare to Dream” House.

 “Most charities would have given up.  But I said they are coming here if it’s the last thing I do.”   Elissa Montanti

When I read the headlines this week in the New York papers that she was at it again, bringing in more kids from war-torn countries with injuries that no one should have to endure, I had to check in with her.  Just who are these new arrivals and how does she keep providing such extensive care for them?

Marzia from Afghanistan with new prosthetic eye/Dec. 2012

Marzia with her new prosthetic eye

EYE:  You never stop, Elissa!  You’ve just brought in a little six-year-old girl from Afghanistan to get a prosthetic eye.  Can you tell me about her?

ELISSA:  Little Marzia has just received the first of her new eyes.  She’s such a brave little girl.  She was in a car with her father and brother and the Talian ambushed them.

Her dad, who had just taken on a job working for the government, shielded her under his legs.  He was gunned down and killed along with her 14-year-old brother.  She was shot in the face and waited there for three hours before she was discovered.

EYE:  How horrifying! What did you do to get her to the U. S.?

ELISSA:  One of my partners on Long Island, Mission Restore, was contacted about her and he, in turn, contacted me.  My charity, the Global Medical Relief Fund, takes care of all the logistics, the visas, the transportation, housing and feeds the children.

Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh, the founder of Mission Restore, did the surgery to repair damage to her face after she was fitted with a temporary prosthetic eye.  The operation could have cost up to $100,000, but it was all done pro bono.  I will take her back and forth for all the follow-ups.

EYE:  How did she take to the operation?

ELISSA:  She is an incredible little girl.  She cried only when they had to take the IV out.  Her eye is only temporary now.  We go back in January and they will see if they can give her a permanent eye that will be replaced as she grows.  Every few years she has to come back.

EYE:  How has she adapted to living with the children at your “Dare to Dream” House?

ELISSA:  She’s getting along with all the kids and they all communicate well.  She stays with her uncle and guardian until her visa runs out and has to return to her mother in Afghanistan.  It took many months and much paperwork to get them here.  I can’t reveal her last name or exactly where she is from for fear that she won’t be safe when she goes back.

Marzia and Abed from the Global Medical Relief Fund and Elissa Montanti/2012

Abed and Marzia bonding at the Dare to Dream House

EYE:  You also have the first boy to come to the U.S. from Syria seeking a prosthetic leg.  Tell me about 11-year-old Abed.

ELISSA:  He was more difficult to get here even than Marzia.  On July 27 he ran outside his house in Aleppo when he heard rockets exploding close by.  Another missile struck soon after, wounding him.  He was taken to a makeshift hospital in a mosque where he had to have his leg amputated.  Omar, his 21-year-old brother, found him there in the basement.  He promised Abed that he would walk again.

A doctor told Omar that I had helped children from Libya last year.  So he was able to get in touch with me via the internet and asked if I could bring his brother here to the states to get medical treatment and a prosthetic.  Of course I wanted to do what ever I could but I knew it would be a challenge.

Abed, Omar and Elissa Montanti, Global Medical Relief Fund/2012

Abed, Elissa and brother Omar

EYE:  How complicated does it get trying to help a child injured in war-torn places like Syria?

ELISSA:  It’s extremely difficult dealing with countries with no government and no American embassy to get visas or passports.  You have to go to a neighbor like Turkey.

Omar miraculously carried his brother in his arms across the border from Syria to Turkey with a suitcase in his hands and made his way to the American Embassy.

Then he got in touch with me again.  I wired him money in someone else’s name because he didn’t have a passport.  There was challenge after challenge.

EYE:  How did you finally get him here?

ELISSA:  After waiting three months and dealing with all the paperwork, I flew to Turkey almost two weeks ago and picked up the boys.  When we got to the airport to fly back, we were told we didn’t have the right papers and couldn’t get on the plane.  There was no way I was going to leave them there.  We finally were able to get out on Dec. 14, but it was not easy.  I told Omar who speaks English that he is now the voice of Syria.

They spoke to their parents today.  There still is no electricity where they live.  The internet is on and off.  Most charities would have given up.  But I said they are coming here if it’s the last thing I do.

Haitian girls with Global Medical Relief FundEYE:  What is Abed’s situation now?

ELISSA:  He’s here waiting to be fitted for a prosthetic.  They will make the leg and he’ll learn how to walk on it. Mentally he’s great.

EYE:  Do they all stay together at your “Dare to Dream” house?

ELISSA:  Yes, I have kids from Haiti, boys from Tibet and Iraq, Marzia from Afghanistan and him. Everybody gets along.  It’s a house of love.  We all had Christmas together.  It was beautiful.  We played songs from different countries and everyone sang.  They are all waiting for their prosthetics except Marzia.

EYE:  Will any of these children stay with you permanently?

ELISSA:  Ahmed who is 15 and blind will stay.  I’m taking guardianship over him.  This is his third time here.  He brings me to tears.  He has no future back home in Iraq.  He’s in the dark.  There is no way he could go to school there.

Here he’s learning Braille and he has a future.  I’m like his mother.  When he was seven, he came home from school to a fight between Americans and the insurgents in Iraq.  There was an explosion and his arm caught on fire.  His eyes were burning and he lost his sight and arm.

Elissa Montanti with Abed arriving from Turkey | Global Medical Relief Fund

Elissa and Abed arriving at JFK International Airport from Turkey

EYE:  That is a tragic story. How do you keep all this going?  You must need supplies and money for these children.

ELISSA:  I need computers and a play station, a generator, and more clothes.  I still work out of my closet where I speak to the world.  The Dream House is down the street where I can house 4-6 children and their guardians. I have to let these children go when they are ready to make room for more who are in great need.

My hope for the kids are that they walk away from here on their own with there heads held high with dignity and confidence and as little ambassadors of the USA .

Every day’s a challenge.  Tomorrow it starts all over again, and I take Marzia back to the hospital for a check-up.  There’s no way I’m going to let these kids down.

Marzia from Afghanistan after surgery with her doll | Elissa Montanti and the Global Medical Relief Fund

EYE: I know you won’t, Elissa.  Best of luck to you and to all those sweet children!  For people wanting to help, they should go to your Global Relief Medical Fund website.

###

TWE Radio Podcasts: Nov. 10,11

Missed our Latest Show? Listen to our On-Demand Podcasts of our Encore Show on 1480KPHX.com featuring Host, Stacey Gualandi, as she chats with: (just click the below)

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Paola Gianturco, documentary photographer who has captured the global phenomenon of Grandmother Power, the title of her new book

Paola Gianturco, author of "Grandmother Power"

Paola Gianturco

 

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Elissa Montanti, whose one woman mission is to heal the injured children of the world and who writes about it in I’ll Stand By You

Elissa Montanti, founder of Global Medical Relief Fund that provides treatment for war-wounded children

Elissa Montanti

 

For More TWE Interviews and Podcasts

 

TWE Radio Podcasts: Oct. 13,14

Missed our Latest Show? Listen to our On-Demand Podcasts on 1480KPHX.com featuring Host, Stacey Gualandi, as she chats with: (just click the below)

Click Me!

Paola Gianturco, documentary photographer who has captured the global phenomenon of Grandmother Power, the title of her new book

Paola Gianturco, author of "Grandmother Power"

Paola Gianturco

 

Click Me!

Elissa Montanti, whose one woman mission is to heal the injured children of the world and who writes about it in I’ll Stand By You

Elissa Montanti, founder of Global Medical Relief Fund that provides treatment for war-wounded children

Elissa Montanti

 

For More TWE Interviews and Podcasts

 

Elissa Montanti On Healing Injured Children of War

October 13, 2012

Elissa Montanti, founder of Global Medical Relief Fund that provides treatment for war-wounded children

Elissa Montanti

 

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Elissa Montanti, whose one woman mission is to heal the injured children of war and who writes about it in I’ll Stand By You

 

NEW on TWE Radio: Oct. 13,14

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New Guests! New Shows! Tune into The Women’s Eye Radio Show as Host Stacey Gualandi interviews::

Paola Gianturco, whose photographs have captured the global phenomenon of Grandmother Power, the title of her new book

Elissa Montanti, whose one woman mission is to heal the injured children of the world and who writes about it in I’ll Stand By You

Paola Gianturco and her book, "Grandmother Power"

Paola Gianturco

Elissa Montanti and her book, "I'll Stand by You"

Elissa Montanti

Update Post Hurricane: Elissa Montanti Stands By Wounded Children Around The World

Elissa Montanti and children from her Global Medical Relief Fund

UPDATE 12/22/12–Long Island Miracle for Shot Afghan Kid–Elissa and the Global Relief Medical Fund brings Marizeh to America from Afghanistan to get her face restored and to receive a permanent prosthetic eye.

Elissa Montanti Helps Afghan Child Marizeh

Marzia

UPDATE After Hurricane Sandy By Elissa Montanti November 8,2012:

Hurricane Sandy affected so many along the East Coast and one of the hardest hit areas has been Staten Island where I was born and raised and where the Global Medical Relief Fund is based.  I am incredibly grateful that despite losing power, myself, the children and GMRF volunteers are all safe.

During the rough night of the storm 15-year-old Ahmed, who lost his sight and arm to a bomb explosion outside his home in Iraq, and 15-year-old Ngawang, a Tibetan boy who was accidentally electrocuted and lost both arms, prayed together in their languages.

Even with the strong wind that sounded like a freight train and the GMRF’s loss of power, their prayers must have worked because we got through it. It’s remarkable that in the midst of such a disaster, these kids from different corners of the world connected and became best friends. Sandy has brought us all closer together.

Soon Ahmed and Ngawang will be joined by two children from Indonesia, who have injuries from the 2004 Tsunami, as well as another child, who will be the first Syrian child brought to the U.S. for help.  All of us at GMRF would like to thank you for your support, especially at this time. Like so many of those around us, we are also in need of supplies and donations.

We are asking for clothes and shoes for the children as well as international phone cards so that they will be able to update their families abroad. We are also hoping to receive enough donations for a generator so the children who are recovering here will be able to stay warm in the event of future outages.

You can visit our website, Global Medical Relief Fund, for more information and how to donate. [Read more…]