The post they say you can’t handle (but we know better)

A photo of Zahraa in the ICU in Nasiriyah

The little girl pictured above is Zahraa, AKA “The Fighter” (we introduced her to you a few months ago here). She was our miracle baby. Surviving against all odds, this little cherub was adored by everyone.

Sadly, Zahraa’s heart defects took her life last week in the ICU where she’d lived most of her life.

Ask any charity ‘guru’, and they’ll tell you: be careful—people can only handle so much pain.

People can only stomach so much death, disease, and difficulty before they go numb and don’t know how to respond. We’ve seen it over the years when a child dies. It was supposed to be a life-saving, momentous occasion, and then the child doesn’t make it.

Jubilance turns to quiet. The comments, emails, and donations stop. Some can’t handle it, and who can blame them? This ride we’ve asked you to take with us is sometimes challenging, tiring, and frustrating—at times it’s painful.

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And that’s why we’re nervous every time we click “Publish” on stories like Zahraa’s. Like Mohammed’s, Yusuf’s, and Yahya’s. Just reading those names makes me tear up.

Thankfully, you have chosen to stick around, lamenting with us and refusing to go numb. You dust yourself off and begin hoping anew for the next child, unwilling to give up.

That’s what it’ll take for us to eradicate The Backlog of children waiting in line for heart surgery together.

Some have asked: “Is reporting deaths even wise? You’ll only turn people away.”

For some people this may be true, but you’ve shown us you’ll continue to show compassion and love despite the challenges. So please join us in grieving for Zahraa and her family during this time—we refuse to gloss over her passing. She brought heaps of joy to all who knew her: her family, the hospital staff (from surgeons to janitors), and to this goofy American, whose favorite part of the day was sitting next to her bed, watching her smile in her sleep.

We’re grateful to all of you for being people who Love First, again and again despite the tough days. We’re grateful.

A photo of Zahraa with one of the nurses