For over 20 years, Mohamed Bzeek has filled the role of father for terminally ill foster children.
Bzeek, 62, of Azusa, California has been taking in children who are often neglected by the system, children who often cannot hear, see or talk. Since 1995 he has buried 10 severely disabled foster children, but despite the inevitable loss, Bzeek continues to care for the children.
"I have been asked, 'Why do you do this?' and the answer is simple," Bzeek tells PEOPLE. "Even if these children cannot communicate or see or hear, they have a soul. They need somebody to love them. I tell them, 'It will be okay — I am here for you. We will go through this together.’"
Bzeek, who came to the United States from Libya as college student in 1978, credits his late wife Dawn with his becoming a foster parent.
"I learned a lot from her about the importance of foster parenting," he said. "She'd opened her heart for years to children who needed emergency foster care. It was just who she was. She was such a generous person — she loved each and every child who ended up in her care, whether for a few weeks or for many years.”
While Bzeek has cared for dozens of foster children over the year, it's the ones who are disabled and who have been abandoned that he has the closest bond with.
"Their lives have value. — it makes me happy when I see them smiling and know they are happy and content,” he says. “You don’t need words to know that.”
Nearly all of the children Bzeek fosters come to him directly from Los Angeles County hospitals as infants after being given up or abandoned by parents who cannot care for them. Rosella Yousef, assistant regional administrator for Medical Case Management Services, says that of the more than 35,000 children registered in the county's Department of Family Services system about 600 have severe medical needs. Bzeek is the only foster parent in Los Angeles County Yousef knows of who will take the terminally ill children.
"His full-time attention has been on providing a home and a family to one terminally ill child at a time," Yousef said, "because he feels that every child deserves a loving family."
For his part, Bzeek says he feels honored to care for the children in the last years of their lives.
"They leave here knowing that they are loved."
Photo credit: Twitter / @alfombraroja_13
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