Muslim immigrant in US fosters terminally ill children
Mohamad Bzeek has taken in terminally ill children for the past 20 years, the only one to do so in LA county
World Bulletin / News Desk
Mohammad Bzeek's bravery is nothing short of incredible. A widowed immigrant has spent the past twenty years looking after terminally ill children.
For now he is spending his days and nights caring for a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect. Blind and deaf she has daily seizures and arms and legs are paralyzed.
Bzeek, a quiet, devout Libyan-born Muslim who lives in Azusa, just wants her to know she’s not alone in this life.
“I know she can’t hear, can’t see, but I always talk to her,” he said speaking to the LA times “I’m always holding her, playing with her, touching her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She’s a human being.”
There is a shortage in the foster system for people like Mohammad Bzeek and up till now he has been the only one to fill the void.
“If anyone ever calls us and says, ‘This kid needs to go home on hospice,’ there’s only one name we think of,” said Melissa Testerman, a DCFS intake coordinator who finds placements for sick children. “He’s the only one that would take a child who would possibly not make it.”
“These kids, it’s a life sentence for them,” he said.
Bzeek, 62, is a portly man with a long, dark beard and a soft voice. The oldest of 10 children,he came to this country from Libya as a college student in 1978.
Some years later through a mutual friend, he met a woman named Dawn, who he married. She had become a foster parent in the early 1980s, before she met husband. Inspired by her grandparents and before she met Bzeek, she had opened her home as an emergency shelter for foster children who needed immediate placement or who were placed in protective custody. Stress caused friction in the marriage and they split in 2013 - she died a year later after she had become very ill, with seizures leaving her weak for days after.