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An Uncommon Hero

by Jeffrey James Higgins

 

Mohammed Habib is a hero.

Mohammed retired last year after valiantly serving his country for 35 years. For over three decades, he displayed physical courage when threatened, moral courage when offered bribes, and uncommon courage putting his values into practice. Mohammad’s actions saved the lives of many children and made the world a better place. Mohammad was not a famous politician. He was not a decorated combat veteran. He was not a police officer capturing criminals or a firefighter running into burning buildings.

Mohammed was a security guard at the BBC International School in Cairo.

The girl was an eight-year-old student at the school where Mohammed kept order, earning a meager security guard’s wages. The girl’s father was a wealthy and politically powerful man with a sociopathic personality. The father divorced the girl’s mother and tried many times to abduct the girl. He stalked and hunted the girl and her family around the city, forcing them to flee time after time. She evaded him, but school was the one place this evil man knew he could find her.

One day, the girl’s father arrived at the school ready to take what he knew was rightly his to take. The girl was his property to possess, humiliate, and torture. He walked up the school entrance and was stopped by Mohammed. The girl’s father demanded that Mohammed bring the girl to him. The girl’s father was famous and very influential. He got whatever he wanted. He stared into Mohammed’s eyes, his posture and bearing signaling his superior intelligence, wealth, and social standing. In a place where justice is earned by the contents of a wallet and political influence is the difference between life and death, the girl’s father held all the cards. He hovered over Mohammed commanding Mohammed to bring the girl out of the school.

“She does not attend this school,” Mohammed responded flatly. The lie was obvious and hung in the air between them.

Unable to comprehend Mohammed’s defiance, the girl’s father repeated his command. “Bring me my daughter.”

“She is not here,” Mohammed replied. His gaze slowly rose up until he stared directly into the man eyes. “Perhaps I should call the police now,” Mohammed said. It was an empty bluff. The police were corrupt and both Mohammed and the man knew the police would do the man’s bidding. The problem was that the father wasn’t dealing with the police. He was facing Mohammed, who stood before him, filled with the unrelenting moral courage of a man willing to die to protect the children under his care.

When the girl’s mother first brought her to school, she told the administrators about the horrible violence the girl’s father had wrought upon them. The administrators passed the responsibility to Mohammed, the lowest paid employee at the school. Mohammed accepted this responsibility knowing the nature of the hard thing he agreed to do. He met the girl and told her, “As long as I am alive and you are inside the walls of this school, no one will ever hurt you.”

The girl found peace, safety, and security inside that school, thanks only to Mohammed. The girl’s father returned many times to steal his daughter from the safety of her sanctuary, only to encounter Mohammed staring back at him in front of the school’s entrance. Every time. Mohammed was impervious to threats and unreceptive to bribes. For the first time in her life, the girl knew she would not have to look over her shoulder. The unthinkable, sadistic fantasies of her sociopathic father would not be realized under the protection of Mohammed. She was safe.

Mohammed risked his life, but he didn’t do it for glory, riches, or gratitude. In all the years Mohammed protected the girl, he never once told her about it. He never mentioned it as he stood beside her on the steps of the school every afternoon, waiting for her mother to pick her up. The girl only learned what Mohammed had done from others who witnessed the confrontations with her father. Mohammed never told the girl’s mother about it, in the hopes of receiving a reward. He never asked for thanks or respect. He never bragged to his coworkers about his courage.

He protected the girl, because it was his job, his responsibility. He did it because he gave his word to protect all of the children at the school. Mostly, Mohammed did it because it was the right thing to do.

Mohammed is an example of a man living a virtuous life. He took pride in working to sustain himself, instead of living off the charity of others. When parents tried to give him gifts of thanks, he refused to accept them. He did his job because it was his to do. Mohammed expressed the meaning of honor with every action he took in that school. He took pride in being responsible for the safety of the children and pride in fulfilling his promise. Words like honor and courage represent great virtues, but they are only promises of what can be. Mohammed honored them every day with his actions.

Mohammed protected all of the children in that school for decades. Some required more care than others, but every child lived under the shield of Mohammed’s unyielding integrity. Thanks to him, thousands of children were educated and grew up without a worry for their safety. For many children, like the girl, this was the only time they felt safe. It’s impossible to know many children went on to live productive and happy lives because of Mohammed. The ripple effect from Mohammed’s courage and virtue can never be calculated.

Last year, Mohammed quietly informed his employers that he would retire. There were no grand celebrations or any celebratory parades. Those honors are reserved for politicians, actors, and others who show their worth on the public stage. Those accolades are not for men who express their virtue, dedication, responsibility, and courage during the quiet anonymity of their everyday lives. Mohammed was comfortable with that. His reward was the pride of knowing he did his job well. Knowing he lived a just life.

Word of Mohammed’s retirement quickly spread from student to student, in person. One student started a fund raising drive on the school’s Facebook page and over 5,000 former students responded sharing stories of what Mohammed meant to them. Notes of thanks and expressions of love poured into the site. An informal collection was set up to buy Mohammed a retirement gift. The people formerly under his care, many of who were living in poverty, sent in donations. They quickly raised over 10,000 Egyptian pounds.

Seeing the outpouring of affection, the school created a fund to recognize employees who made a difference in students lives, so they could have financial help when they were ill or when tragedy struck. The students bought a trophy for Mohammed and presented it to him. He wept when he received it, overcome with emotion. The children knew what Mohammed had done for them and now, Mohammed knew it too.

On the girl’s last day of school, she stood on the front steps of the building and saw Mohammed standing there. She walked up to him and looked into his eyes. “I love you Mr. Mohammed,” she told him. They hugged for a long time, then the girl, like thousands of students before and after her, walked away from school and began the rest of her life. Mohammed watched her go then took his place at the front door.

 

 

 

BIO

Jeffrey James Higgins is a former reporter and a retired supervisory special agent, who now writes creative nonfiction, essays, and novels. He recently completed The Narco-Terrorist, a nonfiction book about the first narco-terrorism investigation. Jeffrey is represented by Inkwell Management and is currently writing his first thriller. Jeffrey has appeared on CNN Newsroom, Discovery ID, CNN Declassified, and other television programs, radio shows, and podcasts. He has been published in the Adelaide Literary Journal, American Conservative, Trail Runner Magazine, The Washington Times, American Thinker, Police Magazine, and other publications. His recent articles and media appearances can be found at JeffreyJamesHiggins.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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    Lisa Wilde
    Vineet Radhakrishnan
    Aunia Kahn
    Christine Robakidze

    INTERVIEWS
    Ivy Pochoda
    Martin Aston

    SUMMER 2013

    FICTION
    Sophie Monatte
    Emma Bohmann
    G.D. McFetridge
    Tana Young
    Janae Green
    Lydia Lambrou
    Linda Bilodeau
    Nick Brennan
    Keith Laufenberg
    Ruby Cowling
    Rami Ungar

    POETRY
    Niall Rasputin
    Joanna Valente
    R.T. Castleberry
    Kristen Hoggatt
    Sam Alper
    Jennifer Firestone

    NONFICTION
    Krista Carlson
    Brenda Rankin
    Jacqueline Doyle
    Dorene O’Brien
    C.A. Stamidis

    ART
    Michael Vincent Manalo
    Jasmine Worth
    Van Saro
    Ira Joel Haber

    INTERVIEWS
    Steph Cha

    SPRING 2013

    FICTION
    Kate LaDew
    Robert Scott
    Samuel Snoek-Brown
    Ruby Cowling
    Valerie Lewis
    Scott Stambach
    Charles West
    Alexandra Gilwit
    Stefanie Trout
    James Lewelling

    POETRY
    Mary Bast
    Lisa J. Cihlar
    Darren Demaree
    Chris Crittenden
    Pramila Venkateswaran
    Desmond Kon
    Jenny Morse

    NONFICTION
    Rachael Goetzke
    Christine Ritenis
    R.R. Gwaltney
    Laura Callanan

    ART
    Cecile Poulain
    Janet Culbertson
    Tom Block
    Chuck Hodi

    INTERVIEWS
    Manuel Gonzales
    Isis Aquarian
    Arthur Tulee

    WINTER 2012-2013

    FICTION
    Radha Bharadwaj
    Barrie Walsh
    Emil DeAndreis
    Brett Burba
    Maui Holcomb
    David S. Atkinson
    Shannon McMahon
    Frances O’Brien
    Shae Krispinsky

    POETRY
    Judith Taylor
    Dorothy Chan
    A.J. Huffman
    Amy Sprague
    H. Alexander Shafer
    Amit Parmessur
    Rinzu Rajan
    Robert P. Hansen

    NONFICTION
    David B. Comfort
    Chase Wilkinson

    ART
    Joe Biel
    Fletcher Crossman
    Natasha Stanton
    Peter Colquhoun

    INTERVIEWS
    Alexandra Styron
    Steven Weissman

    FALL 2012

    FICTION
    Caroline Rozell
    Lorraine Comanor
    Marc Simon
    Len Joy
    Priscilla Mainardi
    Harvey Spurlock
    Max Sheridan
    Katja Zurcher
    Linda Nordquist
    Steven Miller

    POETRY
    Jasmine Smith
    Lowell Jaeger
    Jose Flores
    Corey Mingura
    Katherine MacCue
    Calvero

    NONFICTION
    Colleen Corcoran
    Chelsey Clammor
    Alia Volz

    ART
    Eric Rodriguez
    Loren Kantor
    Keith Moul
    Eric Rodriguez

    INTERVIEWS
    Amelia Gray
    Ruth Clampett

    SUMMER 2012

    FICTION
    Brian S. Hart
    Jessica Caudill
    Amanda McTigue
    Leslie Johnson
    Brandon Bell
    Marija Stajic
    Rachel Bentley
    Rebecca Wright
    Orlin Oroschakoff

    POETRY
    Gretchen Mattox
    Mike Donaldson
    Lucie Winborne
    David Russomano
    Jess Minkert

    NONFICTION
    J.J. Anselmi
    Melanie Henderson
    S.M.B.
    Annette Renee

    ART
    Judith Taylor
    Yi Gao
    Dallas Paterson
    Elias Duchowny

    INTERVIEW
    David Cowart, Part II

    SPRING 2012

    FICTION
    Eliezra Schaffzin
    Melissa Palmer
    Pamela Dreizen
    Claire Noonan
    Ben Orlando
    Joe Kilgore
    Francis Chung
    Kevin Ridgeway
    Karoline Barrett
    G.L. Williams

    POETRY
    Gale Acuff
    Susan King
    Ivy Page
    Sonali Gurpur
    Holly Day

    NONFICTION
    Henry F. Tonn
    Lily Murphy

    ART
    Leonard Kogan
    Orlin Oroschakoff
    Chad Kaplan

    INTERVIEW
    David Cowart, Part I

    WINTER 2011-2012

    FICTION
    Greg November
    Ashley Inguanta
    Brooke Kwikkel
    Tegan Webb
    Ruth Webb
    Edward Wells
    Tantra Bensko
    Keith Laufenberg
    Robert Sachs

    POETRY
    Geordie de Boer
    Amanda Hempel
    Lisa Sisler
    Garth Pavell

    NONFICTION
    Shay Belisle
    Emily-Jane Hills Orford

    ART
    Soey Milk
    Ashley Inguanta
    Brett Stout

    INTERVIEW
    Howard Junker
    Emily Kiernan

    FALL 2011

    FICTION
    Patrick T. Henry
    Matt Thomas
    Tracy Auerbach
    Marko Fong
    A. Lazakis
    Gina Goldblatt
    M.E. McMullen
    Sarah Sarai

    POETRY
    Aaron Poller
    Purdey Kreiden
    C. Derick Varn

    NONFICTION
    William Henderson
    Henry F. Tonn

    ART
    Karl Wills
    Eleanor Bennett
    Carl Lozada

    INTERVIEW
    TINA MAY HALL

    SUMMER 2011

    FICTION
    Avi Wrobel
    Taryn Hook
    San Rafi
    Jennifer Fenn
    Robert J. Miller
    Susan Dale
    John Staley
    William J. Fedigan
    Alice Charles

    POETRY
    Kathryn Zurlo
    Thompson Boling
    Felino Soriano

    NONFICTION
    G.S. Payne
    William Boyle

    ART
    Mari Inukai
    Nicole Bruckman
    Luke Ritta

    INTERVIEW
    Francesca Lia Block
    Rudy Ratzinger

    SPRING 2011

    FICTION
    Liam Connolly
    Katie Lattari
    Karen Wodke
    Sudha Balagopal
    Eliza Snelling
    Rebecca Shepard
    Ron Koppelberger

    POETRY
    Mark DeCarteret
    Margaux Griffith
    Erica Ostergaard
    Sara Swanson

    NONFICTION
    Shorsha Sullivan
    Chelsea Wolfe
    Michael Burns
    Yu-Han Chao

    ART
    Heather Watts
    John Oliver Hodges
    Luke Ritta

    INTERVIEW
    Musician, Chelsea Wolfe

    WINTER 2010

    FICTION
    Joe Kilgore
    John Oliver Hodges
    Marianne Villanueva
    Marianne Villanueva
    Jesse Aufiery
    Michael Burns
    Brett Biebel
    Tetman Callis

    POETRY
    Lauren Nicole Nixon
    Michael Fessler
    David McLean
    Jill Wright

    NONFICTION
    MIchael Campino
    Deanna Ong
    Sy Rosen
    Weisberg & Gousios

    ART
    Michael Knight
    Joseph Bowman
    Coloring Book Art

    INTERVIEW
    Author, Davis Schneiderman

    FALL 2010

    FICTION
    John Bruce
    Jim Meirose
    Sarah Smith
    Elizabeth Dunphey
    Gregg Williard
    Elizabeth Blandon

    POETRY
    Lana Rakhman
    Samantha Zimbler
    Ricky Garni
    Robert HIll Long

    NONFICTION
    MIchael Campino
    Leigh Gaston
    Sy Rosen
    Karen Joyce Williams

    ART
    Ela Boyd
    JT Steiny
    MIchael Jonathan
    Ernest Williamson

    INTERVIEW
    The Beautiful World of Pieter Nooten

    SUMMER 2010

    FICTION
    Emily Kiernan
    Joan Connor
    Stephen Meyer
    Desmond Kon
    Joel Cox

    POETRY
    Judith Taylor
    Gretchen Mattox
    Ashley Shivar
    Jesse DeLong

    NONFICTION
    Stuart Dybek
    Deborah Bradford
    Joseph Smith

    ART
    Osker Jimenez
    Steve Bartlett
    Richard Lange
    C.W. Moss

    REVIEW
    The Lava Lady by Joanne Levine & Paul Monroe

    SPRING 2010

    FICTION
    Miranda McLeod
    Heather Genovese
    DC Curtis & Bones Kendall

    POETRY
    Michael Moeller
    Steve Abee
    Aimee Brooks

    NONFICTION
    Paul Garson
    Teddie-Joy Remhild

    ART
    Alexia Pilat
    Carl Lozada
    Carly Mizzou

    REVIEW
    Burton Pressboard

      SUMMER 2021
      NONFICTION
      In the Houses of Others
      Anita Kestin
      Guide to the Ruins
      Eve Müller 
      Review: Dust Bowl Venus
      Linda Scheller 
      Marked
      Deborah A. Lott

      Winter 2020/21 Nonfiction

      Birthday Surprise, 2003
      Lourdes Dolores Follins

      The Blizzard of ’47
      Anita Gorman 

      Tricky Friend
      Natthinee Knot-asa Jones & Hardy Jones 

      Let He Who Is Without Sin Hurl The First Haggis
      James W. Morris 

      Fall 2020 Nonfiction

      The Other Daughter – Lourdes Dolores Follins

      Wonderful Vacation – J L Higgs 

      Amen Sure Thing – Mindela Ruby

      California Fugue – Teresa Yang

      INTERVIEW: Philip Cioffari by Bill Wolak

      Summer 2020 Nonfiction

      A Survival Guide to
      Christian College

      Rachel Belth
      Save Me and I
      Will Be Saved

      Riley Winchester
      Rejuvenation in
      Fragments

      Jennifer Worrell

      Spring Nonfiction 2020

      This talented group present their new work.

      Fasting – Cliff Morton
      Smoke – Dennis Vannatta

      Interview with Chryssa Nikolakis by Bill Wolak

      Summer Nonfiction 2019

      This talented group present their new work.

      Historic(!) Rugby – Tim Miller

      Cochina de Mierda – Jennifer Jordán Schaller

      INTERVIEW with Author, Mallory O’Meara

      Spring Nonfiction 2019

      These talented writers present their new work.

      Listening to the Voice – Eve Dobbins

      Who is Jackie Brown? – Rachel Scott

      INTERVIEW with Author, Kathryn Harrison

      Winter Nonfiction 2018-19

      Four talented writers with new work.

      INTERVIEW with Author, Kathryn Harrison

      In the Eye – Deborah Morris

      How to Change Your Name – Jayelle Seeley

      BOOK REVIEW: The Night Ocean

      Fall Nonfiction 2018

      Three talented writers presenting brand new work.

      Eimile Bowden – Female, Age Twenty

      Jeffrey James Higgins – An Uncommon Hero

      Ana Vidosavljevic – A Turkish Coffee Reader

      Summer – Nonfiction 2o18

      Brand new work from three very talented writers.

      How Author Eddy L. Harris Changed My Life by Patrick Dobson

      BookStop by Susan Lloy

      Perspectives by Deanna Mobley

      Spring – Nonfiction 2o18

      Great new work from two very talented writers.

      GHOST GIRL by Emmie Barron

      UP ABOVE and the DOWN BELOW by Linda Leigh

      STITCHES by Rick White

      Winter – Nonfiction 2o17-18

      Great new work from two very talented writers.

      DOGS OF KATMANDU by Brett Horton

      AN INTERCOURSE WITH GHOSTS by Anika Gupta

      SPARKY by Pam Munter

      Fall – Nonfiction 2o17

      Great new work from two very talented writers.

      LITTLE TRAFFIC LIGHT MEN by Joan Frank

      MY GREEN CARD by Maria Lopez

      Summer – Nonfiction 2o17

      A group of talented writers. Please read each and every piece published.

      BREAKING THE SILENCE by Damilola Olaniyi

      The DON NOWELL Story by Paul Garson

      Spring – Creative Nonfiction 2017

      A group of talented writers. Please read each and every piece published.

      A VALENTINE FOR THE WIDOW OF ROCK AND ROLL by Rene Diedrich

      I WAS THE DEAN OF FUTURES STUDIES by Barbara J. Campbell

      WE’VE GOT SWEATERS by Anthony J. Mohr

      Winter – Nonfiction 2016-17

      A talented group writers. Please read each and every one published here.

      LOST TIME by Edd Jennings

      I’M NOT AFRAID ANYMORE by Mira Martin-Parker

      BOOK REVIEW: Apocalypse All the Time by David Atkinson – Review by Ryan Werner

      LEARNING FROM MY PAST by Lynne Blumberg

      Fall – Nonfiction 2016

      A talented group of smart, thought-provoking, and humorous writers.
      Please read each and every one published here.

      LUCIDA and ME – K. B. Dixon

      ON WHY I’M NOT A HYPOCHONDRIAC – Rachel Croskrey

      MAKING SPACE – Kym Cunningham

      Summer – Nonfiction 2016

      A great group of intelligent, thoughtful, and humorous pieces.
      Please read each and every piece published here.

      Don’t Quiet Down Please – Shay Siegel

      Bloodline – Janet Damaske

      Chartwell Manor – Jennifer Elizabeth Johnson

      Vertigo book review – Ruby Cowling

      Spring – Nonfiction 2016

      A great new group present you with some interesting, challenging, and humorous ideas.
      Please make sure you read each and every piece presented here.

      Maximum Compound – Stephanie Dickinson

      The Y Factor: “Deep Nasal Passage” Reveals Pre-Launch Secrets of The X-Files – Paul Garson

      Kristian Hoffman – Bowie Diaries

      Winter – Nonfiction 2015-16

      An excellent group of writers with some great new work.
      Please read each and every piece published here.

      Interview with Writer and Architect, Alan Hess

      Michael Filas – Galileo’s Wake

      Denis Mulroony – Sucking Air: Above-Ground Pool Chronicles

      Kyle Mustain – The Opposite of Suicide II

      John Spencer Walters – The Importance of Casket Readiness

      Fall – Nonfiction 2015

      We hope you’re ready for some excellent new work from this gifted group of writers.
      Make sure you come back and read each and every one.

      Interview with Writer and Musician, Tara Vanflower

      Tad Bartlett – Head Space

      Sarah Parris – NaNoWriMo

      Liz Gilmore Williams – The Blitz

      Summer – Creative Nonfiction 2015

      Some exceptional new work from a great group of writers.
      We hope you take the time to read each and every one.

      Interview with Poet and Playwright, Dimitris Lyacos

      L.D. Zane – Kintsugi

      Audrey Iredale – What They Don’t Tell You About Cancer

      Sarah Sarai – My Month in Marijuana Sales

      Paul Garson – The Twice Fought War: Ethiopia 1935-1945

      Spring – Creative Nonfiction 2015

      Some of the best new work from a great group of writers.
      We hope you read each and every one.

      Mary A. van Balgooy – Designer of the Dream: Cliff May and the California Ranch House

      Susan Petersen Avitzour – Phil Och’s Guitar

      Laura Wang – Synesthesia/Synesthete

      Paul Garson – I Spy Cameras

      WINTER – CREATIVE NONFICTION 2014-15

      Featuring some of the best creative nonfiction from a talented group of writers.
      We hope you take the time to read each and every piece.

      Kyle R. Mustain – The Opposite of Suicide

      Eddie Argauer – The Two Faces of Janus

      Larena Nawrocki – Stomping on Spiders

      Paul Garson – Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War

      Karl Wills – Interview

      FALL NONFICTION 2014

      Featuring some of the best nonfiction work from an amazing group of writers.
      We hope you take the time to read each and every piece.

      J.J. Anselmi – Entering the Moment

      Daniel Carbone – In the Details

      Paula Panich – What God Hath Intended

      Melissa Palmer – Breaking the Silence

      Eric Vasallo – Interview with Graffiti Artist, Zamar

      SUMMER NONFICTION 2014

      Featuring some excellent new contributions from a talented group of artists and writers. We hope you spend some time with each and every piece.

      Simon Larbalestier – Interview (Photographer)

      David Rose – Interview (Writer)

      Keicha KempseyDos Trensas/Two Braids

      Ruth Gila Berger – Rumplestiltskin-Rumplestiltskin-Rumplestiltskin.

      Jacob Reecher – In the Care of Professionals

      Melissa Grunow – Shelter/ed

      Chris Casey – Legendary Filmmaker Seijun Suzuki

      Paul Garson – The Great Kantu Earthquake

      STAY IN TOUCH