Mohamed Bzeek: The Libyan American Guardian Angel
By: Malorie Lewis / Arab America Contributing Writer
In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month and Father’s day, here is a heartwarming tale about an Arab American immigrant who is truly a saint. Mohamed Bzeek, a 66-year-old Libyan American, has been a foster parent for nearly two decades. However, Mohamed is no ordinary foster parent; he only cares for children with terminal illnesses. Children given up by their parents or taken by the state.
Having a serious illness is one of the most frightening and stressful experiences that exist in life. Constantly running to make what seems like endless doctor’s appointments, overnight hospital stays, and living in a constant state of unknown. It’s enough to drive a grown man crazy, but imagine being a child in the foster care system with a terminal illness.
“I have been asked, ‘Why do you do this?’ and the answer is simple. Even if these children cannot communicate or see or hear, they have a soul. They need somebody to love them. I tell them, ‘It will be okay — I am here for you. We will go through this together.’“Mohamed Bzeek
Who is this Guardian Angel?
In 1978 Mohamed left home, as the oldest of ten siblings, to come to the United States for University to study engineering. While in the US, Mohamed met the love of his life, Dawn, a devoted foster mother. After marrying, the couple opened their home in Azusa, California, to dozens of children. They taught courses at local community colleges on how to foster and care for children with illness, including dealing with death.
“Their lives have value — it makes me happy when I see them smiling and know they are happy and content,”Mohamed Bzeek
Beginning in 1995, the two decided to only adopt orphans who were victims of abuse, violence, and terminal illness. In 1997, Dawn gave birth to their biological son, Adam, born with brittle bone disease and dwarfism. He was so fragile that daily tasks like changing his diaper might break his bones. Despite that, the Bzeeks resiliently adapted to his special needs and accepted him.
Unfortunately, in 2000, Dawn became severely ill, suffering from incapacitating seizures caused by blood clots in her lungs. In 2015, she succumbed to her illness and passed away. Bravely, Mohamed decided that he should continue his wife’s life work. He works directly with the Department of Child Services (DCS), and they certainly appreciate his generosity. He never hesitates to accept a case, and so DCS has come to rely heavily on Mohamed for these situations that are the most heartbreaking.
Often times children are brought to Mohamed without names, a sense of familial bond, or anything that brings comfort to life. When they enter his home he makes certain that they feel as if they were his own flesh and blood. Giving them names, spending quality time with them, and creating bonds is what is all about. Usually, he is the first person in their lives to show them what it means to be loved. Without his enormous generosity, they would never know what it means to have a bond with another human being. He ensures their names are never forgotten even after they pass away.
“Mom and dad, brother and sisters – and those kids in the system, they have nobody. Seems to be the world has forgotten about them.”Mohamed Bzeek
Something terrible happened in December 2016, when Mohamed was diagnosed with colon cancer and had to undergo surgery, with no one by his side. Alone and terrified, he experienced what the abandoned and terminally-ill children faced before he would take them in. No family, no support system, just the harsh reality of life. This experience solidified his reason for giving these children a shot at life and he began to work harder than ever to ensure they received it. Thankfully, he has since been treated for his stage 2 colon cancer and is in remission.
Moment of Recognition
In 2017, his story exploded around the US and other countries as well. During that viral time period, a woman heard his story and decided that she would start a GoFundMe account. Since its inception over $800,000 has been donated to the man. This has enabled Mohamed to purchase necessities for caring for his children that the state would not provide.
Mohamed has dedicated his life to this mission and says that he will continue to do so until he is no longer able to physically. During his two decades of fostering, he has adopted over 80 children, of which 10 have died in his arms. This is not an easy situation, but he has accepted death as a part of life and chooses to move past the pain of loss to continue helping children in need. The toll it takes on him is outweighed by the joy he receives from being able to give these children the best life possible.
. “We’re human beings, and we supposed to help each other.”Mohamed Bzeek
Here is a video from his GoFundMe page that tells his story.
Hopefully, you all enjoyed this inside story of an amazing father and Arab immigrant. The man is definitely deserving of the credit and recognition that has befallen him. Indeed, it is rare to find a human so caring and willing to sacrifice himself for the good of humanity.
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