S1: Episode 40 - Qusay Hussein

Episode Information

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to My Heart is Not Blind. Narrative histories about blindness and perception. A traveling exhibition and book published by Trinity University Press, supported by Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, edited and hosted by Michael Nye. Stories are often found, resting along the edges of surprise and revelation. Every person, every place is a map to somewhere else. Episode 40, Qusay Hussein.

Qusay:  I born in Mosel, Iraq, and in winter is very cold and summer is hot. They have, uh, the Tigers, uh, river cross through the city. They only have a lot mountains, a lot tree. Yeah, it’s very gorgeous. It’s a beautiful city. My dad like he is the president of our tribe, actually, every day he have a lot of guests. People will come drink coffee with him. He told us lot story about how people before was different. For example, if your neighbor don’t have food, like if you make meat and then your neighbor smell it, it’s a shame on you. If he didn’t share with him, this is the important for me, my story. I lost my vision. I was 17 years old, now I’m at 26. I was playing volleyball, match, volleyball. And then suddenly a car drove to the stadium. And then I was like, I can say two feet from the car.

He make big smile and then he pushed his hand in the horn. Then the car start makes sound <car horn sound> and then very, very big sound like shaken the, the, the ground cuz very, very big, uh, explosion. Then I flew to the air very, very high. When I flew to the air, I saw all the people who was watching that time, I, I have my vision. And then when my body come to the ground, my face come before my body. When I stand up, it’s like, uh, shrapnel come to my head. I lost my nose, all my right face, all my eye. Then I touch all the bone. Then after that, they take me to the room for people die. People on top of me beside me. And then six hour later, my dad, I hear his voice because he was looking for me. And I say, dad, don’t leave me alone, please. I will die. And then he start shouting. He start call somebody to help him to carry me, to put me in a car. And then an hour away, we met American soldier. And then they take me to the, uh, their base. But the hospital was like tent, you know? But this is beautiful tent.

I’m still wondering why they kill kids, kill people. Why we don’t live this. Why don’t love each other? Why, why wish I can teach him what the humanity be? Who convinced you? When you all die, you go to heaven? Who, who told you that? Uh, maybe the person who told you wrong. And he’d ask him why? I did I, I, I did have depression. I did. I did. I, I asked God to check me because I know don’t want live in this life because it’s very hard. For example, if you have infection in your face, like it is hurt you a lot, hurt you a lot, and then you want just to sleep. But the pain don’t let you.

We hear in the news about, uh, doctor Without Borders. And then I went from Iraq to Jordan. And then when I come, actually a lot of people, they have amputat leg, amputat arm. They can’t walk and they can’t eat. And then I say, thank God I have my leg. I have my hand. I can eat. When I walk in Jordan, I saw this situation in front of me. It is changed me. And then thank God the doctor give me office. Two years. I have like teaching people. Uh, if people have depression, they come to me, talk to me, uh, to give them hope, to give them, uh, enthusiasm. This is what I was doing there in Jordan. Actually, blindness mean he can’t see. He can’t see. But absolutely your brain is work 100%. Uh, I’m, I’m, I’m blind with my eye, but I’m not blind with my brain and my heart.

Uh, when I come to the United States, I don’t have any language. No family, no friends, nobody. No, just God. I’m, I’m happy be here in this country because they help me right now. One day I wanna give back to them. Yes, for me right now, my ear is like my eye. Everything. I depend on my ear because I listen to the teacher to catch everything he say, like the, the ear, take a back seat because you have vision. But for me, right now, the ear take front seat and then my eye take the back seat. Yes, I accept my blindness because this is, you can’t change. You can’t change. Like if you threw a cup of water in the dirt and then told me, go turn the water back to the cup. You can’t do that. You are mandatory to accept it. And then you should accept it in good way, not bad way, because you already will accept it anyhow. You will accept it. But I accept it with faith, with love with God. If every day, every hour I start shouting, I hate people around me, I will be affect myself. Uh, anyhow, I accept it. I love it. I live with it every day.

[Outro Music]

Host:  There are so many things remarkable about Qusay. He had over 55 different surgeries to repair his face and his body. He talks about the deep, long-term experience of pain. When he was in Jordan during his rehabilitation, he met men who were missing arms and legs, men that were depressed and hopeless. And Qusay said, I wanted to help these men. The doctors recognized his remarkable empathy and his ability to motivate others. So they gave him an office to talk and encourage and listen to these injured soldiers. For two years, Qusay gave these men hope, taught them how not to give up. Qusay speaks so simply, and at the same time, so powerfully, he says, I just can’t see. I am blind with my eyes, but my brain works 100%. I’m not blind with my brain or my heart. Join us next week. Two new episodes will be released. I’m Michael Nye. Thank you for listening