Historie - English version

Historie - english version

Development, concept and relief aid actions of the support group "Erlangen hilft e.V." An example of humanitarian aid and peace building by individual aid across cultural borders

The support group known as “Erlangen hilft" developed from the desire to help seriously ill children from crisis-inflicted and war- ravaged regions. Inspired by a presentation given by a Viennese physician, Dr. Eva-Maria Hobiger, in December 2007, who talked about the affliction of the Iraqi people and the catastrophic conditions prevalent in hospitals throughout Iraq, a number of doctors and activists from Erlangen, Nuremberg, Fürth, Forchheim and Bamberg decided they had to do something to help children urgently in need of medical attention. Following a visit to Iraq in 2001, Dr. Hobiger established the aid project "Aladins Wunderlampe" and she has been supporting the Children's Hospital in Basra ever since.

Since our initial meeting with Dr. Hobiger, our group has remained in close contact with her and has been able to bring a number of Iraqi children requiring medical treatment to the Children’s Hospital in Erlangen, and most recently to a hospital in Bamberg. The first child Dr. Hobiger asked us to help was 17-year-old Mustafa from Basra. Mustafa had experienced a long history of suffering when he came to Erlangen. He had been diagnosed with leukemia in Iraq. Due to complications triggered by chemotherapy his left arm had to be amputated. In order to improve his quality of life, not to mention his future career opportunities, it was clear he would require a prosthetic arm. We didn ́t know at the time, how many numerous organizational hurdles we would have to overcome to help one single child in need. We would have to find accommodation for Mustafa and his grandmother, preferably in an Arabic-speaking family. We would also require the services of interpreters for hospital visits, shopping and for support during administrative procedures. Needless to say, there would also be costs involved: flights, visas, transportation, accommodation and not least the prosthetic arm would have to be financed. Fortunately, Gerd Lohwasser, Erlangen’s mayor at the time took on the sponsorship for our project, which we named “Erlangen hilft Mustafa”. The Erlangen daily newspaper, „Erlanger Nachrichten“ also agreed to support our cause by publishing our appeals for public donations. In order to meet some of the costs, a fund-raising event was organized at E-Werk, Erlangen’s local cultural centre. This event was supported by our fellow-citizens from Afghanistan, Turkey and several Arab countries. The Islamic community and the Turkish Women's Association organized their own fundraising event. The Erlangen orthopaedic specialist shop Fritsch and Richter, where an Iraqi orthopaedic specialist was working, agreed to bear some of the costs for the prosthesis. The support for Mustafa was overwhelming. He was invited into schools to answer questions about his mother country. Those who met Mustafa, couldn’t help noticing that he was smaller and weaker in comparison to his peers. Shortly before he was due to return to Iraq, a medical examination revealed a recurrence of the leukemia and he had to be admitted to the “Cnopf`sche Kinderklinik” in Nuremberg. The "Förderverein Tumorzentrum" donated the amount necessary to finance the costs of Mustafa’s stay at the clinic in Nuremberg. Mustafa recovered and happy to have his prosthetic arm, he returned home to Iraq. Unfortunately, Mustafa was unable to receive the medical care he needed in Basra and his condition deteriorated and he only survived another year. Despite this tragic blow, we were determined to continue our work for children in need. In the following years, Karrar, Hussein and Moamel from Basra, all young children with severe congenital heart defects were brought to Erlangen for medical treatment. They were all successfully treated in the "Department of Cardiology and Cardiac surgery", at the Children's Hospital in Erlangen.

Ten-year-old Mohammed from Basra had to be operated twice in Erlangen 2009/2010 due to congenital malformations. All the children were treated pro-bono by doctors at the University. The cost of the operations for the children with heart defects were met by donations made to the "Kinderherz-Op" account of the University of Erlangen.

In 2011, 9-month-old Ali came to Erlangen from Babylon (Iraq) suffering from a severe congenital heart defect. In his case Professor Dr. Robert Cesnjevar’s team and Professor Dr. Sven Dittrich gave him a second chance at life by way of a highly complexoperation. Followinghissurgery, hismother Erin was abletore turn home with a healthy child. ItisstorieslikeAli’sthat inspire us to continue our work with children who would otherwise have no chance to survive.
Meanwhile, we have established a network of people from different religious and cultural backgrounds who help us with our work concerning the children we aim to help. We have thus developed a better understanding of intra-cultural relations and have formed friendships with like-minded people.

In 2013 our support group was able to bring 12-year-old Abdullah from Basra. Abdullah was hit by a motorcycle at the age of seven and sustained serious injuries in the accident. A complicated femur fracture had been splinted by a plate, but the bone broke again despite the steel plate. Thus, his thigh-bone was badly deformed. In order to have this deformity corrected, Abdullah came to Germany. In search of specialists able to perform the surgery Abdullah required, our group contacted Dr. Jörg Harrer, at a Bamberg Hospital. Since April 2013, he has been the head of the "Joint Preservation and Reconstruction Team” at the “Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology”. (Senior consultant, is Professor Dr. Wolf Strecker). The “Sozialstiftung Bamberg” generously agreed to cover almost all the medical costs of Abdullah’s surgery, including his stay at the hospital. Abdullah's father finances his family by working as a taxi driver. He could never have afforded the cost of paying for his son’s treatment in Europe.

Special examinations with 3D imaging techniques were needed to plan and correct the deformities on Abdullah’s upper and lower leg. In a first step, a nail was attached to the femur. This is now perfectly straight. The severe deformity of the lower leg had to be addressed in a second step. Here a complicated apparatus, a "ring fixator" with computer-controlled settings was implemented. It took three months until the bone has healed and the boy could go home. We especially want to express our thanks to the attending physicians, nurses and the “Sozialstiftung Bamberg” who treated Abdullah free of charge. Our support group “Erlangen hilft” covered the costs of the expensive operation materials, accommodation, visas and insurance policies.

In 2014 2- year-old Saif from Damascus (Syria) with severe congenital heart defect was brought to Erlangen. He had been operated twice in the "Department of Cardiology and Cardiac surgery" at the University of Erlangen. He was successfully treated and now he has a normal life expectancy. The costs of the operations mainly were covered by donations made to the "Kinderherz- Op".


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