The Nine Year Old Hero

It was about 1 a.m. on one of my last nights of the summer, and I had just gotten off of a very long flight back from the West Coast. Half asleep, my parents and I exited the gate and started to walk through an empty airport towards baggage claim. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of our fellow passengers leave the restroom, and suddenly fall to the ground.

We immediately ran towards him. My parents, who are doctors by profession, dropped everything and began trying to figure out what happened. As they frantically asked him questions and searched for a medical information card, the crew from our flight departed the plane and joined our impromptu medical response team.

My parents determined that the man has diabetes, and was in major need of sugar. As everyone who had gathered ravaged their luggage for something sweet, a young boy, Mecca, arrived at the scene with the flight attendants who had been escorting him to his parents.

The only thing we could seem to find was a protein bar that had a minimal amount of chocolate chips in it. In a barren airport, with all security and paramedics taking far too long to respond, we worried that it would not be enough to save him.

In the midst of the frantic feeding of the protein bar, Mecca quietly said: “I have a Snickers in my Lunchables!” In the midst of the chaos of trying to save a stranger’s life, nobody responded to him. However, Mecca knew what to do. He dug deep into his colorful backpack, opened his snack, and pulled out a Snickers. He then handed it to my father, who was holding the patient on his side while my mother tried to manage with a chocolate protein bar.

Within seconds of the Snickers replacing the protein bar, the man regained consciousness, and it was clear to everyone that Mecca, a 4th grader living in Washington D.C., had saved this stranger’s life!

My parents, who have been practicing medicine for almost 30 years, were in awe of the initiative that Mecca took. My father recalled, “it was wonderful–very rewarding that a 9-year-old knew what to do and wanted to get involved.” Ms. Morgain shared that Mecca has always loved to help people. In fact, his father would always remind him that his middle name, “Naseer,” meant helper!

What made Mecca’s actions even more incredible, was his flight experience that night. See, Mecca had been traveling alone for the first time. His father’s flight was unexpectedly canceled, so with impromptu accommodations, Mecca had to fly from Oakland to Washington alone, and he was “very nervous about it.”

His mother, Ms. Kiki Morgain, told us of how Mecca’s grandmother had filled his backpack with Lunchables to make him a little less anxious. “We worried that he was going to eat all the candy on the flight,” Ms. Morgain laughed.

Thus, when we told Mecca’s parents of his heroic actions, they smiled from ear to ear. “We knew he was nervous about flying, so we were surprised that he saved some candy, and even more surprised that he was able to think about his candy.”

Mecca explained passionately that he “was just really really happy that [the man] was okay.” The next day, he started 4th grade and excitedly told his principal about what had happened. His 4th-grade teacher joked with Mecca that she sometimes gets low blood sugar, and might need Mecca to come to the rescue!

It’s been a month since my family, and I saw a 9-year-old save a stranger’s life, and it still amazes us. In a very messy, chaotic, and frankly scary, world, Mecca’s sincerity continues to make us smile. My mom put it best,  “To help someone, to be nice to someone, is a basic human instinct. In general, people try to suppress that instinct. However, it is very evident in young hearts and should be encouraged more and more.”

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Hana Mangat

Hana Mangat, 17, is a junior at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland. In 2012, she co-founded the youth-run organization, Sikh Kid 2 Kid, with the mission of eradicating ignorance with the power of education. Through Sikh Kid 2 Kid, she has played a key role in developing and implementing a cultural and religious literacy training program for educators. Hana is also the president of her class, the founder of Cultural Society, an active public speaker for bullying prevention initiatives, an officer of the Minority Scholars Program, and a delegate of the Anti Defamation League’s National Youth Leadership Mission.

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