- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The legacy of a 16-month-old Afghan boy who died a decade ago after returning home following heart surgery in Indianapolis is continuing to grow through the efforts of those who cared for him.

“We like to say that the ripples of Qudrat are still being felt today,” Hancock County Superior Court Judge Terry Snow, one of the National Guard officials who helped bring Qudrat Wardak to Indiana, told The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/1D2qS3k ).

The National Guard unit had helped bring Qudrat (KOO-drawt) from an Afghan refugee camp in Afghanistan to Riley Hospital for Children. Qudrat’s death April 15, 2005, just two days after returning home to Afghanistan caught them by surprise.

A few days later, Maj. Richard Graham, who served as executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry, met with Hakim and gave him $13,000 that had been raised by Indiana residents such as his parents Jim and Roberta Graham of Brownsburg.

A year later, Jim Graham was in Afghanistan and emailed Hakim telling him he would like to meet. After exchanging hugs and small talk, Jim Graham turned serious. “I said, ‘The people of America would be very interested in what you did with the $13,000.’”

Hakim had previously said Qudrat was his only child. He had been ashamed, he now told his American friend, to admit he had been unable to feed or care for five other children while living in a massive refugee camp in Pakistan.

Hakim said he used some of the money from Indiana to retrieve his children and repay the families that had taken them in when he and his wife were destitute. Then he returned to his family’s home in Hajji Abdad, a village of about 1,800 that had been devastated by years of occupation by the former Soviet Union, and fixed it up for his reunited family that now included a baby girl born about 18 months after Qudrat died.

Then he traveled to Pakistan, using some of the donated money to study medicine. When he reconnected with Jim Graham, Hakim had just completed his schooling and was heading back to his family and village committed to providing education, health care and opportunities for women.

In the years since, the Grahams have used their business, community and Rotary club connections to help Hakim. They’ve raised more than $310,000.

“If it hadn’t been for Qudrat, Hakim would never have recovered his children,” Jim Graham said.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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