CLARKS SUMMIT, Pa. — A 9-year-old Afghan boy born with his bladder outside his body got a special visitor at his Pennsylvania school — the Army officer who helped bring him to the United States for corrective surgery.
Bilal Sharif was in class at Clarks Summit Elementary School outside Scranton on Friday when Army Maj. Glenn Battschinger walked into the room, The Times-Tribune reported Saturday.
"Major B!" Bilal shouted.
Bilal had been working alongside his father making bricks in Afghanistan before Battschinger, a civil affairs officers, intervened in 2012. Bilal had the surgery at a New York hospital last year and has been staying with a host family.
Since Bilal last saw Battschinger more than a year ago, he underwent another surgery to repair his clubfeet and learned English.
The boy, who wants to become a doctor and eventually return to Afghanistan, called Battschinger his best friend.
"He helped me to get here and to fix me and to get better," Bilal said. "He's a good soldier. I love him."
Battschinger, who is stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and recently returned from a deployment to Africa, grabbed Bilal's hand and told the students: "If you have an opportunity to help someone else ... extend a hand. He asked for help, and I extended my hand to help him."
Bilal will need additional surgery.