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A second chance for child victims of war

Malak Elshami, 5, arrives at Ronald McDonald House

Malak Elshami, 5, arrives at Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park with her father, Mustafa, center, and mother, Safia, left, to a welcome party thrown by her new playmates and Elissa Montanti, who organizes the children’s medical trips to the United States. (July 28, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Malak Elshami, 5, arrived on Long Island with her father on July 28, 2011. Malak survived a missile fired by troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi that killed her two siblings in May, but the attack severed one of her legs. In a New Hyde Park guesthouse, Malak joined a half-dozen other children wounded in war zones around the world. Two boys from Iraq were injured in bombings in 2008: Sajjad Hadi, 7, lost a leg while Zeenabdeen Hadi, 4, had facial scars. Brought to the United States for medical care by Elissa Montanti of Staten Island, the children stay at the Ronald McDonald House while they receive treatment from a group of Long Island doctors. This is the children's story of hope -- and a second chance.

Malak Elshami, 5, arrives at Ronald McDonald House
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Malak Elshami, 5, arrives at Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park with her father, Mustafa, center, and mother, Safia, left, to a welcome party thrown by her new playmates and Elissa Montanti, who organizes the children’s medical trips to the United States. (July 28, 2011)

New friends greet Malak Elshami at Ronald McDonald
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

New friends greet Malak Elshami at Ronald McDonald House, the 5-year-old’s temporary home for the duration of her medical treatment on Long Island. (July 28, 2011)

Safia Elshami listens to Sajiad Lafta as her
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Safia Elshami listens to Sajiad Lafta as her daughter, Malak, looks at Zeenabdeen Hadi, center, and Sajiad Shakir, second from right, during a party welcoming Malak to Ronald McDonald House. (July 28, 2011)

Sajiad Lafta, left, chats with Safia Elshami, mother
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Sajiad Lafta, left, chats with Safia Elshami, mother of new patient Malak Elshami. (July 28, 2011)

Elissa Montanti gives Malak Elshami, who lost a
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Elissa Montanti gives Malak Elshami, who lost a leg in the Libyan conflict, a tour of the game room at Ronald McDonald House as Zeenabdeen Hadi and Sajiad Lafta, right, play with hand puppets. (July 28, 2011)

From left, Zeenabdeen Hadi, Sajiad Lafta and Sajiad
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

From left, Zeenabdeen Hadi, Sajiad Lafta and Sajiad Shakir help a new patient, Malak Elshami, adjust to the Ronald McDonald House. (July 28, 2011)

Already adjusting to her new surroundings at Ronald
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Already adjusting to her new surroundings at Ronald McDonald House, Malak Elshami has a balloon fight with Sajiad Shakir as Sajiad Lafta, left, looks on. (July 28, 2011)

Malak Elshami, right, chats with Zeenabdeen Hadi, left,
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Malak Elshami, right, chats with Zeenabdeen Hadi, left, Sajiad Lafta and Sajiad Shakir. (July 28, 2011)

Malak Elshami reads to fellow war-wounded children, from
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Malak Elshami reads to fellow war-wounded children, from left: Zeenabdeen Hadi, Sajiad Lafta and Sajiad Shakir. (July 28, 2011)

Mustafa Elshami hugs his daughter, Malak, on their
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Mustafa Elshami hugs his daughter, Malak, on their first day at Ronald McDonald House. (July 28, 2011)

Elissa Montanti, who organizes the children’s medical trips
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Elissa Montanti, who organizes the children’s medical trips to the United States, holds Zeenabdeen Hadi, left, 4, and Farewnda Khan, 6, during a sendoff for a boy at the Ronald McDonald House. (July 13, 2011)

Elissa Montanti helps some wounded children from war-torn
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Elissa Montanti helps some wounded children from war-torn countries open gifts at a sendoff for one of the youngsters at the Ronald McDonald House. (July 13, 2011)

An Iraqi boy hugs Elissa Montanti at a
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

An Iraqi boy hugs Elissa Montanti at a sendoff for a war-wounded child at the Ronald McDonald House. (July 13, 2011)

Elissa Montanti hugs an Iraqi boy during a
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Elissa Montanti hugs an Iraqi boy during a farewell party for a war-wounded child at the Ronald McDonald House. (July 13, 2011)

Elissa Montanti speaks with fathers of war-wounded children
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Elissa Montanti speaks with fathers of war-wounded children staying at the Ronald McDonald House. (July 13, 2011)

Elissa Montanti, executive director of Global Medical Relief
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Elissa Montanti, executive director of Global Medical Relief Fund, fights back tears as Hamid Hadi, father of 6-year-old Hussein Hadi, gives her a farewell hug outside the Ronald McDonald House before he and his son head home to Iraq. (July 13, 2011)

Hasan Khazaal hugs Hussein Hadi, 6, who was
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Hasan Khazaal hugs Hussein Hadi, 6, who was heading home to Iraq with his father after completing medical treatment on Long Island. Khazaal’s son and Hussein and other wounded children from war zones were staying at the Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park while receiving medical care. (July 13, 2011)

Farewnda Khan, 6, of Afghanistan awaits surgery on
Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Farewnda Khan, 6, of Afghanistan awaits surgery on his hand while staying at the Ronald McDonald House. He was wounded in his war-torn homeland. (June 21, 2011)

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