Syria War: Mother and Child Unite After Three Years
We feel very emotional and very blessed today. At 5 am the atmosphere was charged with emotion, it was heart rendering and tear jerking when a 9 year old Syrian child stepped off a Turkish Airlines plane, entered Istanbul Airport and was embraced by her mother for the first time in three years. The family endured three years of painful separation, the child sobbing all that time having been separated from her mother in February 2012 at the tender age of 6 years as a result of the Syrian war. The child was kept in the care of an elderly grandfather as her father, a Palestinian, had passed on in 2007. The child took refuge in the notorious Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Syria which was completely shut off by Assad's regime. The mother had travelled to Jordan and onwards to Turkey. The child could not follow at a later stage because her travel document was not recognized. The mother tried relentlessly to be reunited with her child but to no avail.
The Almighty works in strange ways. Gift of the Givers Turkey co-ordinator, Fekri Shaban, an ex-Al Jazeera bureau chief for Turkey, was on tour in South Africa with the head of Gift of the Givers Hospital in Darkoush, North Syria, Dr Ahmad Ghandour, when he was made aware of the above case. It was 5 March and we were in Polokwane highlighting our activities in Syria. Immediately this news reached Fekri, he was overcome with emotion. How could a child be separated from her mother in this manner for such a long time. He started diplomatic efforts through many quarters, returned to Turkey and engaged the Turkish Government for assistance and intervention. In the meantime we made arrangements for the child to travel from Damascus to Beirut 5 days ago. The grandfather could not travel because of political obstruction. The child stayed with complete strangers in Beirut sobbing every day. In the meantime Fekri sent a Turkish friend, Mr Kemal, on standby to await the child, Sundus Ali Besheer. The breakthrough came yesterday afternoon when the Turkish Government, who were very sympathetic and co-operative, arranged a visa through their Embassy in Lebanon. The child flew at 3 am today accompanied by Mr Kemal and was reunited with her mother Khalide.
The cost of the entire exercise was covered by Gift of the Givers, in the spirit of South African Ubuntu, touching people in difficulty in all parts of the world. A special "Thank You" to Fekri Shaban who worked tirelessly since 5 March to achieve what is nothing short of a miracle. All Praise to the Almighty.