40 children lived in this home; 10 of them left in caskets
Posted March 8
It's been over 20 years since children started living in Mohamed Bzeek's home. In that time, he's parented about 40 children.
Of the 40, 10 have died - most of them in his arms.
Bzeek fosters children with medical problems. He has a soft place in his heart for them, and now only fosters those who are terminally ill.
Bzeek fostered most of the children since they were babies.
“They said, there is nothing we can do for these kids. And if you want to take - leave him in the hospital here, or you take him home. We always take our kids home because I said, we're not going to abandon him,” Bzeek told NPR.
“So all my kids - they die in my home. Most of them - they die in my lap - holding them.”
He started fostering children after he got married to his wife in 1989. They loved their foster children as if they were their biological children.
Together they had only one biological child, a son named Adam who was born with brittle bone disease and dwarfism. Adam is now 19 and attends college. He only weighs 65 pounds, according to the LA Times.
In 1991 Bzeek lost one of his foster children, a little girl born with a spinal disorder. She didn’t live to celebrate her first birthday.
“This one hurt me so badly when she died,” Bzeek said to the LA Times.
By the mid 1990’s the Bzeeks decided to foster only terminally ill children, something Los Angeles county’s Department of Children and Family Services desperately needed.
Rosella Yousef told the LA Times that out of the 35,000 children in the county’s foster system 600 fall under the care of the department’s Medical Case Management Services, a department that takes in the most severe medical problems.
“If anyone ever calls us and says, ‘This kid needs to go home on hospice,’ there’s only one name we think of,” said Melissa Testerman, a DCFS intake coordinator who finds placements for sick children to the LA Times.
“He’s the only one that would take a child who would possibly not make it,” Melissa said.
Bzeek’s wife died in 2015, but that didn’t stop him from fostering more children. His current foster daughter takes around-the-clock care. She was seven weeks old when he took her into his home, and she just recently celebrated her 6th birthday.
“I will [foster children] as long as I’m healthy,” Bzeek to PBS.
Unfortunately, in November of 2016 Bzeek was diagnosed with colon cancer. He went alone to the hospital for surgery.
According to PBS, he said it gave him an understanding of what the children go through.
“These kids needs somebody, even if there is heartbreak. To me this is part of life,” said Bzeek to PBS.
Bzeek takes care of children for the children, and not for the money. His roof leaks, he still cools his house with a swamp cooler, has only one nurse who helps him throughout the week and still drives a 2003 van.
Recently, a Go Fund Me account was set up to help him repair the roof, put central heating and air conditioning in his home (so the children’s health won’t be effected in the hot summer), hire another nurse, buy a wheelchair accessible van and pay for his son’s college education.
In 21 days, 5,637 people have donated $312,379 to Bzeek.
When Bzeek read the comments people left him, he was touched and told PBS that he cried.
“You see how many nice and kind people around us,” said Bzeek to PBS.
“There is always good in this world, more than the bad.”
Bzeek is a testament to that good in the world.
Stacie Simpson is a journalism student. She loves listening to, gathering and sharing stories and advice to help others improve their quality of life. She spends most of her free time with her husband, ballroom dancing, reading and writing.