Javid Mirza and Lorne Finkelstein met while serving on a committee created to combat racism in Hamilton after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Now, they've come together again to help bring a dying boy to Canada from Afghanistan.
Mr. Mirza, president of the Muslim Association of Hamilton, and Dr. Finkelstein, a prominent member of the Jewish community, have been helping Hamilton resident Saddique Khan in his bid to get medical treatment for nine-year-old Djamshid Djan Popal.
Dr. Finkelstein said he was eager to foster understanding between the Muslim and Jewish communities by joining forces to find treatment for Djamshid, who has a rare heart condition.
"Everyone should be there to help each other," he said. "Leave your politics, your despair, your negative feelings about what goes on elsewhere in the world, over there."
"I hope together we can save this little kid," Mr. Mirza, a father of two, said yesterday. "It's truly inspiring. We're just parents, right? People get very emotional."
Dr. Finkelstein, a cardiologist, said his efforts to have the boy treated in Israel two weeks ago were rebuffed, in large part because he lives in an area of Afghanistan still under Taliban influence. Getting treatment from Israeli doctors could put Djamshid in danger once he returned.
The compromise that was reached, to send Djamshid to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in Ottawa, is not without complications. He will have to travel a long way, and once he arrives, he may need surgery and extensive follow-up care for a long time, which won't be possible in remote Afghanistan.