Saturday, December 19, 2009
Matt Roloff's friend, U.S. soldier Russell Hayes answers your questions about the Iraq family seen on Little People, Big World
This will be a very special and a very emotional item on our site. So many viewers who watched the Little People, Big World episodes about Matt Roloff going to Iraq, have been touched by the story of Salman family. We have posted a few articles on our site and some fans have found out more on their own, particularly about the U.S. soldier seen on the show Russell Hayes and his personal dedication to helping the Salman family.
There is a website which makes it very easy to help this family if you've been moved by their story and have the means to help in any way you can. They have set up an easy paypal system or a mailing address if you prefer:
This site always aims to represent the great viewers of LPBW and bring you stories that are interesting or informational. We contacted Russell Hayes and asked him a few questions that we were receiving from viewers about his life, the Salman family and the episodes seen on the TV show. We also expressed the appreciation of thousands of LPBW viewers and readers who have heard his story and have been inspired by the sacrifice that Russell and his family have made to help others.
However, rather than just post the link to the site, Russell Hayes offered to speak directly to you, readers of the Spiritswander/Keeping Up With The Roloffs site, fans of LPBW and all who might see this. What follows below was written directly by Russell Hayes himself.
By Russell Hayes:
I have been asked to answer a few questions that some of you might have.
1.) What touches you most about the Salman Family?
Their warm and loving spirits. They give love with out expecting anything in return. They loved just to have the attention of all the soldiers. Here is a picture of when I first told them that I had a daughter with dwarfism. It was the first time they had seen another dwarf. I also showed them the pictures of the LPA conference, and of Matt Roloff and his family.
2.) I understand that the kids have started school. Do you know what that has been like for them?
My wife Carmen and I took them to their first day of school. Baraa came across a little shy, but soon warmed up to her first grade teacher and classmates.
Ali was not shy. He introduced himself to his teacher and asked where was his seat, and when could he start using the computer at the back of the classroom.
Ali and Baraa love school. The other kids all know their names and just love them both. They are very popular in school. While we were in Iraq, the other kids made fun of Ali and Baraa in school. Here it is just the opposite. I am very proud of how well they do in school. They hate to miss school.
3.) Has the family mentioned to you what they are most grateful for now that they've been in the United States for the last 6 months (beyond the obvious safety and medical care)?
That's an easy one!!! They discovered WalMart!!!!
Of course they are looking forward to getting the life saving operations for their kids.
We have had a little set back. Prior to Saja's visit with the doctor they required an MRI. I took her to the appointment and they put her onto her back, and into the MRI. We had to leave her in there by herself because of the power and danger of exposure to the X-rays. I watched from a window as Saja layed there quietly. They started up the machine, then a still small voice in my mind told me that something wasn't right. I asked the operator to please stop the machine and to put a monitor on Saja. She did, then restarted the MRI, within a few minutes the operator stopped the MRI. Saja's vital signs were going down hill fast. Her neck was so unstable that while lying on her back her airway was closing off. We took her out of the MRI, turned her back onto her stomach and she recovered her airway. I'm afraid that if we had just left her in there, she would have quietly passed away.
4.) Do you know what has been the biggest culture shock for the Salmans going from Iraq to living in Idaho?
I think that it's the language and the food. Carmen and I have tried to take them to McDonalds, but they will not eat the hamburgers, they are afraid that it might have pork in it, so all they eat is chicken Mcnuggets.
5.) For viewers who are unsure from just watching the show, will the family permanently stay in the U.S?
Yes, because Abdul and his nephew Ibrahim had been working for the U.S. for nearly 2 years, and because they were threatened by the terrorists, they qualified for Special Immigration Visas.
After they had been threatened, Abdul escaped from the terrorist, and hid out with his family in a shack in the "Green Zone." Ibrahim was not so lucky. He was kidnapped by the terrorists, held for three months and then was rescued by U.S. soldiers and Iraqi national police. He had been beaten so severly by the terrorist that both of his kidneys had been ruptured. He stopped breathing in front of me, was revived then passed away 5 days later. He was only 22 years old.
6.) I know some details get lost in editing of the program. Early in the show, Amy mentioned that the Salman's would be staying possibly for 2 nights at the Roloff Farm. When you and the family arrived, Amy said Jeremy and Zach were on a trip and Molly and Jacob were sleeping. However, at what appeared to be the next day at dinner, Warda had still not seen the Roloff kids (she asked Amy if all her kids had dwarfism) and viewers did not see the Roloff kids during the meal or when the Salman's left. Can you fill in the details for confused viewers?
We arrived at their home a little after midnight. We slept in the next day and the kids were already gone. What you thought was dinner the next day was around 10 am. We ate a brunch, then had a quick tour of the farm and then left before Molly and Jacob came back from school. We were only at their home for about 12 hours. We had to make our flight to Idaho in the early afternoon.
7.) The other minor detail that left a few confused was when the family spoke to the female US soldier on the phone who obviously has a deep bond with the entire family. Saja, Bera and Ali called her "mom". Is that just a term of affection they have for her or is there a story about how that began?
I'm glad you asked. After Matt's first visit to Iraq, and after the first show aired on "Little People Big World" about the Salman family, many soldiers came up to me and told me that they had seen me on Matt's show, but none of them inquired about the kids.
I was in the PX buying shampoo for the Salman's when a female soldier came up to me and asked if I was the soldier that she had seen on "Little People Big World." I said yes, then her comment was completly different from all the others. She said, "oh I want to see those children." I was on my way to take them the shampoo and she came along. She fell in love with them at first sight, and they with her. After that she went with me everyday to take them food and to visit with them. The love that she has for them and they for her is very deep. They call her "Mom Tammy" because they love her.
8.) Since the airing the LPBW episodes, have you or the Salman's been recognized when out in public? If so, what has that been like?
I am not usually recognized, but they are. Most people dote over Ali and Baraa. Their mother is a little more reserved. Saja most of the time is not with us. It is so hard to travel with her because of her unstable neck and her bulky wheelchair. Her wheel chair doesn't fold since I modified it so she could lay down on it.
9.) How has your own daughter with dwarfism reacted to having the Salmans in her life?
Corina is our youngest, she was born 11 years ago when I was 47 and my wife was 45. I am now 58 and our older children are in their 30's. Corina has been raised almost like an only child, so when she found out that she was going to have a new family, and have new brothers and sisters join us, she was very happy.
Corina has been wonderful and patient. As with any family, brothers and sister sometimes have a few spats over toys and attention. Corina and Ali have in the past had some arguments but they soon get over them.
10.) What has this entire experience been like for you and your family?
When Carmen and I decided to become the sponsors of the Salman family, we thought that the medical expenses would be something that we could handle. They have proven to be overwhelming, and more complicated than we had imagined. Although this experience is very difficult, it has also been very rewarding spiritually. We pray more together as husband and wife and as a family asking God the give us strength. Our faith has increased and our relationship between us and Corina has become more unified.
To let you know how difficult the strain of the medical problems of the Salmans are, I'd like to share a very personal event that happened two weeks ago.
As most of you have seen on the television, the left side of Abdul's face is paralyzed. We thought that he had Bell's palsy. I took him to the doctor. The doctor ordered a CT scan. It was not Bell's Palsy, it turned out to be a brain granuloma. The granuloma has eaten away at the bone at the base of his skull, and the nerves that control his face are gone. The damage is permanent and can be fatal. We have to operate before the granuloma gets to his carotid artery.
That night, Wardah walked next door to our house and wanted to speak with us out side. Carmen, Corina and I stepped outside and Wardah started to ask me about her husbands brain granuloma. She never got passed the first few words when she burst out crying and dropped to the ground in my driveway. She sobbed loudly and uncontrolably. Carmen sat down next to her and rocked her as she cried. We tried to comfort her as best we could.
Wardah has three handicapped children, and her husband is in danger of losing his life. Wardah is under a lot of stress. I would like to ask each of you to please pray for the Salman family. Their journey did not end with their arrival in America. It is just begining.
11.) Is there anything you would like to say to viewers who watched the episode, read the articles and now are aware of the Salman's situation?
Yes. When Abdul escaped with his family from the terrorist, and his nephew had been kidnapped. He was overcome with despair. In desperation he prayed that God would send Angels to help him and his family. God answered his prayer and sent hosts of Angels to help him.
I would like to ask those that read this, to become one of the Angels and help the Salmans with your prayers and donations to help them get the life saving operations that they need.
May God Bless each and everyone of you that read this.
Russell, Carmen and Corina Hayes
I would like to thank Russell, for taking the time to speak directly to the public by answering the viewers questions and writing this heartfelt piece.
As mentioned, please visit the site linked below if you've been touched by this story and can help out in any way you can.
Posted by Spiritswander at 1:17 AM