‘It’s not easy’

Michelle Park

Graduate student houses children who come to the U.S.

Majid Fadihl, 11, of Iraq, is staying with Huda Sosebee, health education graduate student, and her daughter Deema Sosebee, 8, until June. Yanke Bionics has donated artificial limbs and legs for Majid, and Akron Clinic has provided free operations. Huda i

Credit: Andrew popik

The snow is new to 11-year-old Majid Fadhil Sabor.

The hamburgers and pizza are new, too, and were, at first, not his idea of tasty.

And Kent’s black squirrels are incredibly fascinating. In fact, Majid is excited to run around and get them — when he adjusts to using his new legs.

“He cannot wait to chase them around,” said Huda Sosebee, a graduate student in health education who began caring for Majid last month in her Kent residence. “They are not in the Middle East.”

Majid came to the United States to receive medical care and prosthetic limbs after he lost his legs in Iraq, Sosebee said. While he can stand and walk with his new legs, he still has some work to do before he can run after black squirrels.

Majid lost his legs when an explosion occurred while he was walking to school with his cousin. He lost one leg in the explosion and another to an infection. His cousin was killed.

Before Majid, Sosebee said, she hosted “at least a few dozen” children from the Middle East. She does so through the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, an organization based in Kent that her husband, Steve Sosebee, founded. The organization brings children from Iraq to the United States so they can receive medical attention.

Steve Sosebee, who studied international relations at Kent State, is currently overseas.

“He started to see the kids from the conflict who were injured or killed,” Huda Sosebee said. Not long thereafter, her husband began working to help the situation.

All medical services are provided to the children for free, Sosebee said. Each leg could cost about $12,000, the Akron Beacon Journal reported in January.

When Majid received his prosthetic legs from the company, it made him “so happy,” Sosebee said.

“When they gave him the legs, he started to walk and walk, and his legs got swollen, and they told him just last week to stop,” she said. “It’s not easy. He thought that when he got the legs, he was going to start running. He learned the hard way it’s a lot of work.”

Majid enjoys his own room in Sosebee’s house and has “all of the toys he can even think of,” she said. Many people have sent items — even a cell phone — to him.

When he lived in Iraq, Majid said he went to school, ate his lunch and did his spelling, Sosebee translated.

“Now, I don’t go to school because I lost my legs,” he said. “It’s hard.”

Sosebee’s 8-year-old daughter and Majid get along well, and he will begin attending the third grade with her at Holden Elementary School. Going to school will be hard for Majid, Sosebee said, comparing it with an English child attending a school in China.

Majid left a large family when he traveled to the United States, Sosebee said. He lived with his mother, his father, two brothers and six sisters. It was not possible for either of his parents to come with him, but Majid calls his family every few days with phone cards, and his family calls him, too. He is expected to return to them by June.

Letting Majid and other children go can be difficult, Sosebee said.

“It’s not easy, but at the same time, I am a mother, and I know their parents are waiting to see them,” she said. “At the end, you have to let them go.”

Hosting children like Majid is very rewarding, Sosebee said.

“People think they have too many needs,” she said. “But, when you go to bed to sleep and you think how you’re changing somebody’s life — it is a big responsibility, but at the same time, it’s rewarding and worth it because you’re changing their lives.”

Contact public affairs reporter Michelle Park at [email protected].