What Does the Love of a Libyan Father Look Like?

Tasnim sits on her father's lap. It is her safe place.

Tasnim’s dad holds her when she gets scared. She didn’t like getting the IV put into her hand, and for a few days afterward she cried when anyone who looked “medical” got too close.

It was her dad’s lap that calmed her every time.

A dad strokes his young daughter's hair while she sleeps, recovering from lifesaving heart surgery.

The fathers we meet have made great sacrifices to find someone who could heal their child’s hearts. They drain family savings and travel to doctors inside the country and out, only to be told their child’s heart can’t be repaired. 

And yet, they don’t give up hope.

When they hear an international team of doctors and nurses is in their country, ready to help children with heart defects, they come with their sons, daughters, and long-held hope. 

We all get a jolt of joy when the doctor says ‘Yes, we can help you…”

Malak's dad pats her bottom to try to soothe her during a fussy spell. She is slowly recovering from heart surgery.

Every time Malak’s dad comes into the intensive care unit, his whole face lights up the moment he sees his daughter. He makes cooing sounds to soothe her, and pats her bottom when she’s particularly fussy. 

Like most families, Malak’s dad works during the day, so most of the responsibility for care falls onto Malak’s mom. But he comes to visit after work every day—and sometimes sneaks in before.

Rowabe and Mohammad's fathers have supported each other while waiting for their children to come out of the operating room.

Rowabe and Mohammad’s dads have been spending a lot of time together. They sat for many hours outside of the operating room yesterday, waiting for news of Rowabe. This morning they are back in the same place together, waiting for news of Mohammad. They are a support for each other when the hours feel long and their nerves start to fray.

A dad calms his child as he gets an echocardiogram to check his heart.

A father distracts his young son while he gets an echocardiogram to check his heart for defects.

These dads are keeping their children distracted while they get an echocardiogram—a test that shows any damage to the heart. The test isn’t painful, but it goes so much more smoothly when the children are relaxed, and these dads are professionals!

Walla's dad kisses her hand. He's so grateful to see her after her heart surgery.

Walla's dad has been so attentive to her in the hospital. It has been so touching to see.

Walla's dad snuggles with her as she rests following her lifesaving heart surgery.

And Walla’s dad? He is so sweet with her. As soon as she was moved to the intensive care unit after her surgery, but still connected to machines, her dad pulled up a chair beside her bed to stroke her hair. 

Today, free of oxygen and drainage tubes, he gives her as much cuddle time as she needs while her body recovers.

So what does the love of a Libyan father look like? It looks just like the love of a father anywhere.