CVC – pre 2012
Shahameer was 5 when one evening, his mother brought him to the CVC. I remember how sweet and cute he was. His face was gorgeous, nothing but smiles, mopped in shining black hair. They had arrived without status, refugee claimants, Shahameer and his mother. When they came to the CVC, Shahameer had no health coverage, no IFH, nothing.
Then I noticed he was wearing a mans trench coat, far too big for his small 5 year old frame. Our clinic nurse Jennifer explained it was to mask his “deformity”.
As it turned out this little boy from Pakistan had been burned. He was playing, as 5 year olds do, with his friends, in the slums of Karachi. He and his friends had the misfortune to choose a play area where 2 religious groups decided to stage a fight – with real weapons, real firebombs. One of these was thrown at Shahameer because he was known to be from a family of the “wrong “religion. The Molotov cocktail exploded beside him. The young boy suffered 3rd degree burns.
Because he had no care available in Pakistan, his wounds fostered and fused. His chest adhered to his hip because he lay in a bed, bent over by the burns. When the wounds “healed”, Shahameer’s chest was bound to his hip, and Shahameer was bet over and deformed, as a result.
His mother brought him to Canada, first to protect him form more of man’s inhumanity to fell child, and secondly, to see if there might be treatment to help her son stand straight again.
Canada’s “response” to this 5 year old refugee from hell was to make him wait further for any kind of healthcare or assistance.
That is when, in a man’s trench coat designed to hide his deformity, Shahameer came to our clinic, to our attention.
The happy ending here, is that plastic surgeons at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children accepted our referral – pro bono. They operated and helped Shahameer stand tall, again.
We never saw this young man again. We took that as a good sign. We have often wondered what he must look like, now. We wonder what became of him, after Sick Kids stepped in.
Not all our cases, all our stories have this reassuring outcome. Endings, or beginnings like this are too often, too rare.
I bet Shah is a proud Canadian about now? He must be just about finishing High School, or entering University. I wonder what he will do next?