A Haven for Medically Needy Children

A little known, family-run organization in Houston provides free surgeries and medical care to nearly 800 children a year. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the "House of Charity" brings children from around the world to Houston to receive the highest quality medical care.

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The House of Charity is nearly hidden at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in West Houston. From the outside, it's nothing remarkable -- just a two-story house with tan siding. But step inside the courtyard and you feel almost as though you're stepping into another country. Bright birds are singing in a large cage in the corner. The walls are painted purple, green, turquoise and yellow. And paper lanterns and streamers are festooned across the rafters. Hashmat Effendi is the founder and executive director of House of Charity. She says they can house as many as 20 children at a time for medical care.

"House of Charity provides donated, but high-quality medical care to children who don't have insurance. I'm not talking about flu and high-temperature fever. I'm talking about severe congenital deformities or also severe burn deformities or any kind of deformity. We basically do plastic surgeries."

The children suffer from cleft lip and palate, amputations, and some of the most extreme electrical and acid burns. Fourteen-year-old Azima Haider is from Pakistan. She is a quadruple amputee -- no hands, no feet. This is her third trip to the U.S. to receive medical care and prosthetics.

"I really like it here and I've got my new prosthesis. And everyone is so good and you know I get my free treatment. It's just so good for me and the people are so loving and caring. And I even have extra activities to do here and it's very good."

Azima has been here for three months already, going through rehab and learning how to use her new prosthetic hands and feet. Some of the patients end up staying here as long as two years. And Effendi says they're able to do all this -- provide transportation, medical services and housing -- through donations from other non-profits.

"We don't spend any money on clothing, any money on groceries. We don't spend any money on transportation, we don't spend any money on recreation or entertainment. Everything is donated."

The House of Charity has about 90 volunteers and receives donated medical services from about 90 doctors and health professionals, mostly in the Houston-Galveston area. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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