Devastated by war or disaster, children find healing in New York

NEW YORK, March 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Elissa Montanti can rattle off the stories without hesitation of the hundreds of wounded children who have come through the doors of her small New York charity to get medical help.

Marci, a five-year-old from Afghanistan, was shot in the face in a Taliban ambush. She lost her eye, and her father died trying to shield her.

Hamandani, nine, was hanging from a tree, trying not to be swept away in Indonesia's 2004 tsunami when he fell and crushed his arm.

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Global Medical Relief Fund
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Global Medical Relief Fund

Baraka Cosmas Rusambo, 6, began treatment for prothesis at Shriners Hospital on June 17, 2015 in North Philadelphia, Pa. Rusambo lost his right hand to witchcraft-related attack in Tanzania because he has albinism. Global Medical Relief Fund and Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia examines children for any necessary operations and fitment of prosthetics.

(Alejandro A. Alvarez/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS via Getty Images)

Daniel Solis, 14, from Nicaragua, puts on his prosthetic leg at a home provided by the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, U.S., March 24, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

(L to R) Carlos Castro ,15, Daniel Solis ,14, and Alexis Pineda, 7, all from Nicaragua, speak at the home provided by the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, U.S., March 24, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Elissa Montanti, founder of the Global Medical Relief Fund, stands outside one of her homes in the Staten Island borough of New York, U.S., March 24, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Alexis Pineda, 7, from Nicaragua, lies on a bed at a home provided by the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, U.S., March 24, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Elissa Montanti, founder of the Global Medical Relief Fund, talks with Baraka Lusambo, a Tanzanian with Albinism visiting the U.S. for medical care, after his arrival at JFK International Airport in New York City, U.S., March 25, 2017.

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

Carlos Castro,15, from Nicaragua, puts on his prosthetic legs at a home provided by the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, U.S., March 24, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (R) from Tanzania holds hands with Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania talks with Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in his bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Daniel Solis, 14, from Nicaragua, puts on his prosthetic leg at a home provided by the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, U.S., March 24, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Alexis Pineda, 7, from Nicaragua, rests on a couch at a home provided by the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, U.S., March 24, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: TO GO WITH AFP STORY Ahmad Sharif, age 7, from Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, waits to be fitted with his new prosthetic eyes by Ocularist Annette Kirszrot in her New York office 25 May 2005, as his bother Saad Sharif (R) looks on. Sharif was brought to the United States with the help of the Global Medical Relief Fund to receive new eyes and a right arm after he was injured by a bomb near his home in Iraq. His brother Saad said, 'we are trying to make him forget the accident, what happened...sometimes he doesn't sleep and keeps thinking, he has thoughts about it that he can't express, that he expresses with broken sentences'.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Ahmad Sharif, age 7, from Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, is fitted with his two new prosthetic eyes by Ocularist Annette Kirszrot in her New York office 25 May 2005 . Sharif was brought to the United States with the help of the Global Medical Relief Fund to receive new eyes and a right arm after he was injured by a bomb near his home in Iraq. His brother Saad who sat with him during the treatment said, 'we are trying to make him forget the accident, what happened...sometimes he doesn't sleep and keeps thinking, he has thoughts about it that he can't express, that he expresses with broken sentences'.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Kabula Nkalango, 18, talks with Dan Zlotolow, a specialist in hand and upper-extremity surgery, on June 17, 2015 at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. Nkalango lost her right arm to a machete attack in Tanzania because she suffers from albinism. At left is Elissa Montanti, founder and director of Global Medical Relief Fund.

(Alejandro A. Alvarez/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS via Getty Images)

Ahmad Sharif, age 7, from Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, is shown with a before and after look after receiving his two new prosthetic eyes by Ocularist Annette Kirszrot in her New York office 25 May 2005. Sharif was brought to the United States with the help of the Global Medical Relief Fund to receive new eyes and a right arm after he was injured by a bomb near his home in Iraq. His brother Saad who sat with him during the treatment said, 'we are trying to make him forget the accident, what happened...sometimes he doesn't sleep and keeps thinking, he has thoughts about it that he can't express, that he expresses with broken sentences'.
 

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

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And Sarki stumbled into a wood stove as a toddler living high in the Himalayas, a six-hour trek from the nearest passable road. Her burned arm healed into a frozen position, with a web-like hand.

They are among the more than 200 children injured in disaster or conflict and brought to the United States for surgery, prosthetics and other medical treatment, courtesy of Montanti's Global Medical Relief Fund (GMRF).

Almost all come more than once, especially when growing children need larger prosthetics, bringing the number of follow-up visits to about a thousand.

"All the kids are in my head and in my heart," said Montanti, who founded GMRF 20 years ago. "I love all of them.

"People say, 'Do you have kids?' and I say, 'Yeah, 200,'" she said with a laugh. "I look good for 200 kids."

Actually, those 200 plus children take a toll on Montanti, who puts them up in a four-bedroom house down the street from her own in the New York City borough of Staten Island.

"It's not 9 to 5," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a recent interview. "I'm up the street at 12, 1, 2 in the morning seeing who has a fever, who's got a cold."

And she gets some criticism.

"People say why don't you help kids here," she said. "These kids have no resources. Why shouldn't we help them? They don't have half of what we have."

GMRF has hosted children from the United States as well as 40 other countries, their lives shredded by war or calamity.

Some are missing limbs, and others are severely burned or disfigured. Some must be carried off airplanes when they arrive, she said.

Staying in New York City with Montanti, they are treated at no cost by the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia. Some also have been treated by New York's Northwell Health hospital.

"HEALING AND LOVE"

The first to be helped by Montanti was a boy who lost both arms and a leg stepping on a landmine in Bosnia. Word spread, especially among U.S. soldiers who befriended young war victims and sought her help for them.

That brought her children like Ahmed, who lost his vision and an arm in an explosion in Iraq as he walked home for school at age seven.

This week, Montanti has four children with albinism from Tanzania who lost limbs in brutal attacks and need prosthetics. Albinos in Tanzania are targeted for body parts, which are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price.

32 PHOTOS
Albino children
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Albino children
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania dances along as a video plays on a computer in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (R) from Tanzania holds hands with Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania talks with Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in his bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania looks at a book as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania looks out the window in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (R) from Tanzania sits on the lap of Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Children from Tanzania sit on a sofa in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania looks out of the window in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania walks into his bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Mwigulu Matonage Magesa (L), Pendo Sengerema Noni (C) and Emmanuel Festo Rutema (R) sit on a sofa in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania eats an apple as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania eats an orange as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Mwigulu Matonage Magesa (L) and Emmanuel Festo Rutema (R) put on their prosthetic arms as Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (C) looks on in their bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania eats an apple as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania puts on her prosthetic arm in her bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Children from Tanzania play soccer in the backyard in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Children from Tanzania play cards in the living room in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a stuffed animal that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (L) and 12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania play soccer in the backyard in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a stuffed animal she says she sleeps with at night to make her feel safe in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a plush heart that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri 
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a plush toy that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri 
Mwigulu Matonage Magesa (L) and Emmanuel Festo Rutema (R) put on their prosthetic arms as Baraka Cosmas (C) looks on in their bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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The four children are on a return visit, having first come to the United States and Montanti two years ago for care.

At the same time, she has three amputee children from Nicaragua - two teenage boys who lost limbs in car accidents and the mischievous seven-year-old Alexis Pineda who was born missing one arm below the elbow.

Alexis likes to show off that he is adept at tying his shoes without his prosthetic but with it, he can grab things and use scissors, his mother said through an interpreter.

"There are a lot of bullies. In Nicaragua, they look at him. It's hard," said his mother, Cristian Marcela Pineda, who accompanied him to New York from Managua. "Now they can look at him but at least he has another hand."

Daniel Solis, 14, who lost his leg in a hit-and-run accident in his Nicaraguan hometown of Masaya, grabbed Montanti in a hug as he practiced walking on his prosthetic.

"We are best friends," he said in Spanish.

As the children grow up and move on, they stay in touch, often on Facebook, where Montanti said she recently got birthday greetings from children she helped from Bosnia in 1998.

"In this little house with four bedrooms, there's a lot of healing and love that goes on under the roof," she said.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Ros Russell)

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