The Girl Who Escaped Death Twice

Jobs disappeared.

That’s what drove Yaqin’s family from Mosul, Iraq. It was 2014 and the early days of ISIS in the city. Life was beginning to get difficult—the rules for living changed, tightened, but it was still manageable, except for the fact that paid work became scarce. Yaqin’s father couldn’t support his family, so they made the decision to leave.

It was a decision that saved Yaqin’s life.

We are clustered around Yaqin’s bed in the hospital ward as her mother shares their story. Yaqin hasn’t cracked a smile once since we met her, but she is relaxed in the bed, shooting imaginary enemies on her mother’s phone. Every time I try to peek at the screen to see how she’s doing in the game, she slowly angles the phone so I can’t see it.

She had heart surgery just two days before and her feisty attitude tells me she’s on the mend.

When her family left Mosul, they first headed to a displacement camp outside the city. Their stay was cut short though—the camp was bombed, which meant they were quickly forced to move again to find a safer place to live. They traveled the full length of the country—from Mosul in the north to Basra, at the southern tip of Iraq.

The trauma of the last two years has taken a heavy toll on Yaqin. Between leaving Mosul, getting bombed out of a camp, establishing a new life in a southern city, all on top of being born with a serious heart defect—well, it was all a bit much. She lost all interest in eating. By the time she met our medical team, she was extremely thin, had advanced symptoms of malnutrition, and needed medical care if she was going to survive.

If Yaqin’s family hadn’t left when they did, they would have been trapped in Mosul—hemmed in when ISIS shut down the borders. If Yaqin’s family had remained in Mosul, she would not have received the lifesaving heart surgery she needed to survive.

You made sure she got that surgery. Her heart is mended now.

The UN estimates there are 10 million people in Iraq who currently need assistance because of the ongoing war with ISIS. There are millions of displaced families who need the very basics to survive. Little girls like Yaqin, with complicated needs, get squeezed out.

But you saw Yaqin through the crowds. You saw her need, and you provided the means to save her life.

Yaqin spent her recovery time before being discharged having uninterrupted time with her mother—a rare treat for a girl with a little brother. She was eager to get home to enjoy her family.

Another simple, everyday miracle for the girl who escaped death twice.

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