Even in the midst of despair, hope and kindness still pierce the darkness.

Since 2011, Syria has been caught in a civil war. A couple of years after the start of the war, a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was created. They ravaged the region for several years in an attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Southern Europe, until they were defeated and, by 2017, had lost most of their territory.

However, war is not the only event which has ravaged the nation. On February 23, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Southern Turkey and Northern Syria, devastating the area, killing many, and trapping many under rubble.

According to World Vision, “Close to 18 million people in Turkey and Syria have been impacted by the disaster, with over 55,000 dead and nearly 130,000 injured.”

Yet even in the dire circumstances, there is still hope. A newborn baby girl survived the disaster and was found under rubble in the city of Jinderis.

She was rescued and taken to a hospital where she was cared for, and the staff gave her the name “Aya,” which is Arabic for “a sign from God.” Her uncle, Khalil al-Sawadi, and his wife, who also lost their home in the earthquake, have since adopted her.

Both consider her as their own biological daughter. The little girl’s name is now Afraa, named after her mother who tragically perished in the earthquake along with her siblings. The family had been living in Jinderis since 2018 after having to flee their original home when it was captured by ISIS and began a new life in the city.

This story shows us how there is light in the darkness and the beauty of adoption and compassion. Afraa lost her family in this disaster, but relatives took her in, and she will have a new life with her new father and mother. Shortly after they took her in, her new parents gave birth to another daughter named Ataa.

Even when things seemed grim for this little girl, her relatives found her and adopted her as their own child. In an interview, al-Sawadi’s wife said that she would not differentiate between her niece and her biological children. Her husband also says he will raise Afraa and Ataa together and in the same way.

In spite of being in a country ravaged by war, terrorism, political instability, and a terrible earthquake, there is still hope, there is still compassion, there is still love for family, despite the dire circumstances, the couple was willing to do the paperwork and DNA testing necessary to raise this newborn child.

This is one of many accounts of seemingly hopeless situations where family steps in and takes steps and sacrifices to help one another. Khalil and his wife have made these sacrifices, to give Afraa a wonderful new life and honor their deceased relatives during one of the worst natural disasters Syria has ever experienced.

The sacrifice made by Afraa’s relatives shows us the value of every life, that a child’s circumstances do not dictate their value, and how adoption can save lives. The pro-life movement places emphasis on the value of adoption, to give children, born and unborn, a chance at life even in the most dire circumstances.

Cover hoto by moein rezaalizade on Unsplash

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.