Mar 25, 2011

S.I. Woman On Global Mission To Help 1 Child At A Time

From CBS News

March 25, 2011 7:28 PM

Elissa Montanti (Photo/60 Minutes)
Elissa Montanti (Photo/60 Minutes)
NEW YORK (CBS 2) – The humanitarian work of one Staten Island woman isn’t going unnoticed. After devoting her efforts to wounded children around the world, Elissa Montanti will appear on 60 Minutes this Sunday on CBS 2.
While Montanti’s charity has a mighty name — Global Medial Relief — it is essentially the project of one woman working out of her home. But though her office space may be small, the 57-year-old woman has been able to coordinate a network of doctors and hospitals to take up the causes of wounded children across the globe.
To see a preview of this Sunday’s 60 Minutes segmentclick here.
Montanti has reached out to children in Bosnia, El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Pakistan just to name a few. Her mission began in 1997 when Montanti, then an emergency medical technician, read a letter from a Bosnian boy who had been disfigured from a land mine.
Another boy, a maimed 9-year-old Iraqi child named Wa’ad, was also aided by Montanti’s charity.
After complicated plastic surgery procedures undertaken by Long Island surgeon Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh, the young boy was able once again play soccer and display a bright smile.
Montanti has been able to help so many by begging and borrowing from doctors and hospitals. She has traveled to the Middle East and arranged passports, cutting red tape in the process and getting wounded children out of their circumstances one at a time.
Still, many have been critical of her efforts for helping foreign children rather than those in the United States. Montanti simply shrugs off the criticism.
“We don’t have landmines in this country, thank God. And these children are innocent,” she said.
Word of Montanti’s efforts have spread like wildfire over the years. She said she now receives dozens of letters asking for help each month.

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