BOSTON, Massachusetts (NEWS CENTER) – With help from fellow Mainers a woman from Aroostook county has made the impossible, possible for a young man from Morocco–bringing him here to the U.S. for medical treatment.
Betsy Allen knew the moment she met Abdelkhalek El Malyani on a teaching trip to Morocco that she had to help him.
Three years later, she has made the impossible, possible bringing him here to the U.S. for medical treatment.
"I'm doing this because I just feel like I'm supposed to. I don't feel like it's anything out of the ordinary,” Allen said.
It all started as a promise she made. Years later she discovered Shriners and sought there help. The national organization stepped forward to foot the bill for all the medical expenses at their hospital in Springfield, Mass.
Meanwhile, Allen was also raising funds through a GoFundMe page receiving generous support from family, friends and people all across the state.
The Anah Shriners in Bangor also came forward to pay for travel and lodging expenses.
“You know this is something I wanted to do for him. I felt like I had to do it for him,” Allen said.
Allen and her family met El Malyani as well as his friend and translator Youseff Mezzaoui at Boston’s Logan Airport.
The pair even joined Allen and her family to sightsee in Boston.
“It’s just been really wonder to be a part of,” Allen said.
From Boston, they went to the Shriner’s Hospital in Springfield for El Malyani’s first appointment.
"Club foot occurs in about 1 in a thousand babies. Here in the U.S. they pretty much all get treated right away as infants,” Dr. David Drvaric with Shriners Hospital for Children said.
El Malyani has had to live this way his entire life. Fixing it won’t be easy. Doctors say an extensive surgery and months of treatment are ahead.
"It's a process and not an event. It's gonna take time to get everything lined up to be able to do all this and for him to recover,” Dr. Drvaric said.
For El Malyani the entire experience has been overwhelming.
"He is kind of scared because it's the first time it his life that he's going through surgery," Mezzaoui said, translating for El Malyani.
But Allen says she will be there by El Malyani’s side through it all.
“He's really thankful for Betsy for helping him. Making this dream come true for him. There's not a lot of people like her doing this and he's really thankful for her,” Mezzaoui said.
"Just hearing that he is so grateful and that his family is so grateful, you know it makes it all worth it. My joy in life comes from seeing other people happy, doing things for other people. So it's been pretty amazing,” Allen said.
Amazing perhaps because the boy she's helped teach is now teaching her something about herself, and teaching all of us about the power of caring.
El Malyani just started treatment at The Shriner’s Hospital in Massachusetts on Thursday. He will stay there at the Ronald McDonald House for the remainder of his treatment.
Allen says she will be back and forth from Maine to make sure El Malyani has everything he needs -- and may even bring him to her home in Blaine if needed.
You can continue to follow their story on Allen’s blog.
You can also learn more about the organization (Sidi Moumen Cultural Center) where Allen met Mezzaoui and El Malyani here.
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