Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: Immigrant Doctors in France Save Grand-maman

With Tony Abdel ghany.

Provins, France. The entire world seems divided at year-end between the forces of love and hatred. Authoritarian regimes have reared their ugly heads across the planet. Politicians have painted Muslims as evil on two continents. Yet, outside Paris, a good-news story emerges that shows love can in fact triumph over evil.

This is a story about a global medical team who have given outstanding care to an elderly, frail grandmother I have known for years. A story about the strength of France, and of the historic French values of liberté, égalité, fraternité. A story that humanity is basically good. Ironically, the French nationalized medical system is often criticized for caring more about the bottomline than patients. This story also paint a picture that regardless, it can also produce masterpieces equal to those on the walls of the Louvre.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-27 at 11.33.33 AMGrand-maman Sadia Chelouti on her 90th birthday. Photo: Tony Abdel ghany.

In the 1950’s, Sadia Chelouti arrived by boat to Marseille and made her way to Northern France to join her husband who was working in the coal mines. She had grown up in Kabylie, the Berber region of Algeria, where her family had an artisanal olive grove cultivating from seeds to oil. She went on to raise twelve wonderful children, living life powerfully. Last year, at the age of 89, she fell and was hospitalized in Provins. Sadia was admited to hôpital Léon Binet.

Tony Abdel ghany reveres his grandmother. When she fell ill, he flew back to France from New York to help care for her. The bond between a grandmother and her grandchild is particularly special and while a grandmother would do anything for her grandchild, the adult child would do anything for her.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-27 at 11.33.24 AM(1)The grandson with Dr. Fariborz Hakami at Léon Binet Hospital in Provins.
Photo: Tony Abdel ghany. 

Prof. Dr. Fariborz Hakami heads the surgical department at Léon Binet Hospital in Provins. Fariborz was raised to be a doctor as he is the son of highly-regarded Iranian physician. Dr. Hakami loved his grandmother very much and was touched to see how close Tony was with his grand-maman.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-27 at 11.33.38 AM
Dr. Morteza Hakami was Dean of Isfahan Medical School in Iran
and served
as personal physician to the Shah of Iran (seated, middle).
Photo: Dr. Fariborz Hakami.

Interestingly, Dr. Hakami’s uncle Mohammad Seirafian was one of the most well-known carpet makers in Iran. One of his most prestigious pieces that he wove over eight years was given in 2005 to the United Nations and hangs today in the U.N. Ambassador’s Lounge.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-27 at 11.33.30 AMThank you letter from Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Dr. Hakami’s uncle
Mohammad Seirafian. 
Photo: Tony Abdel ghany.

The team that supports Prof. Fariborz Hakami at Léon Binet Hospital in Provins is not only capable but personable. Each and every team member has a life outside of the hospital which they can draw on to better interact with the patients, increasing their abilities to be better related.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-27 at 11.33.36 AMFrench surgeon Dr. Richard Charon, Tony Abdel ghany, and Dr. Fariborz Hakami.
Photo: Tony Abdel ghany.

Surgeon Dr. Richard Charon, for example, owns a beautiful boutique hotel with his lovely wife Isabelle, a dentist. Le César Hôtel is a gem within the beautiful medieval city of Provins, recognized for its historic culture by UNESCO.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-27 at 11.33.22 AMSpanish team member Dr. Jose Moreno, chiropractor. Photo: Tony Abdel ghany.

Diversity is a strength that authorities should consider and integrate at every level of society. We all have something to bring to each other. This is what the medical team under former hospital director Gabriel Rochette de Lempdes and the city under former mayor Christian Jacob has done. Immigration, when integration is done properly and genuinely, is great for development.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-27 at 11.33.16 AMFrench medical staff: Maxime Lecon. Photo: Tony Abdel ghany.

Algerian and Berber anesthesiologists, respectively Dr. Ahcene Bouhadjar and Dr. Fares Djebrouni have supported Sadia every step of the way, including into the operation room on their day off. Dr. Djebrouni was very helpful in supporting grand-maman by speaking Berber dialect with her.

Tony with GrandmotherGrand-maman Sadia Chelouti with loving grandson in Provins, France.
Photo: Tony Abdel ghany.

As my own grandmother Irene Simpson Alleman would say, Let the world go to Hell in a handbasket. Grand-maman Sadia Chelouti is making a full recovery. Let the forces of good and evil battle on the street of the world. For in one institution in Provins — pital Léon Binet — love has triumphed. This holiday season we know in our hearts that the blackness of hatred is pushed back as the first candle is lit.

Originally published in The Huffington Post, December 10, 2017.

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About Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens

View all posts by Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce ( writes and speaks on Thought Leaders and Global Citizens. Bringing 26 years management experience within both investment banking and the non-profit sector, Jim has worked for Daiwa Bank, Merrill Lynch, a spin-off of Lazard Freres, and two not-for profit organizations and a foundation he founded. As Founder & CEO of Orphans International Worldwide (, he is working with a strong network of committed professionals to build interfaith, interracial, Internet-connected orphanages in Haiti and Indonesia, and creating a new, family-care model for orphans in Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

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