‘What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?’

Astronaut, cook, teacher, scientist, fireman, vet, musician and superhero are just some of the answers children give when they are asked what they want to be when they grow up.

Here at our Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan, we ask our young patients that same question, to make their time recovering or waiting to leave the hospital pass a little faster, and to encourage some dreaming between one check-up and another.

Beniella and Divine did not escape our curiosity. Aged 4 and 15 respectively, they come from Burundi. Last spring, they were taken to our hospital in Khartoum, along with their families, after heart defects put their health at risk.

When we put our big question to them, their answers left us beaming with pride. “I want to be a doctor so I can help people who are suffering,” Beniella confided in us. Divine, on the other hand, said: “My wish is to be a nurse.

The country they were born in is one of the poorest in Africa, and the lack of free treatment, proper medical facilities and specialist medical workers there means it cannot fulfil the universal right to treatment.

But that has not stopped Beniella and Divine dreaming. They are so young, but they are already dreaming of playing their part in getting treatment to everyone who needs it.

Thanks to a special flight, they have learnt that growing up healthy is the first thing you need to do before dreaming of your future as a grown-up.

Which is why, now they have confided in us about their job plans, we hope they really will bring them to life once they are back home.

The Flying Angels Foundation’s motto is ‘A plane ticket donated is one more child treated’. We work with the foundation to give children up to 18 the chance to travel to and from their own countries to our Salam Centre, where they can get free, quality cardiac surgery.

In 2020, thanks to EMERGENCY’s collaboration with the Flying Angels Foundation, 11 children from various countries flew a total of 56228 miles for treatment. We would like to wish every one of them and their families a happy new year of peace ­– or salam.

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