If you’ve followed the stories of the children here for even a few months, you probably know Fayez, a two-year-old from the Gaza Strip with chubby cheeks and a big grin.
It was exactly one week later that Koren and I stood with Fayez’s grandmother in the hallway of the Sheba emergency room, listening as the doctors explained through tears what happened minutes before. Fayez had gone into cardiac arrest and could not be resuscitated.
Did we do our job? I found myself wondering. We tried our best for him, but was it enough?
In the days following Fayez’s death, the response from around the world has been overwhelming. Fayez’s doctors in Gaza and Israel, past Shevet volunteers, other families from Gaza, even people on the other side of the globe who never even met him have sent beautiful messages of support and compassion. I can see that he was loved, I thought, but does his mother know?
The morning after Fayez died, just as we were arriving with his grandmother at the border, his mother called me. “What about Amelie?” she said in Arabic, asking after a former Shevet volunteer. “Does she know? She loved Fayez so much.”
Indeed, Amelie is one of many here who have gone the extra mile to love and care for Fayez. I’m glad to know that even now their love is a blessing to Fayez’s family.
Friends, it’s incredible to see how this little boy, this two-year-old from a humble family in the Gaza Strip, was so loved by so many. It wasn’t enough to save his life, but it didn’t have to be. That power was in the hands of the One who is holding Fayez safe in his arms even now. Our calling was so much smaller, and we pray that however imperfectly we may have fulfilled it, that the Father will bring something beautiful from it.
In the wake of such good news, we were all feeling a bit more relaxed. But not for long–only an hour or two later, Lena found our new Yazidi arrival from Iraq, two-year-old Maryana, extremely blue and with oxygen saturation at 17% of normal. We called an ambulance immediately and watched the number on the oximeter drop lower and lower even as we made the phone call. The paramedics arrived just as Maryana’s saturation plummeted to the single digits, and they rushed her to Assuta hospital across the street in Ashdod:
This week brought big steps for our beloved Somaia from Gaza. Her mother was excited to tell us on Tuesday that Somaia had been off the ventilator since first thing that morning:
For three days, she continued like this, breathing on her own. Finally on Thursday afternoon, after nine months in the pediatric ICU, Somaia was moved to the intermediate ICU! Her mother is absolutely overjoyed and growing increasingly exuberant as the doctors are even beginning to prepare for Somaia’s discharge to Gaza. Somaia has come a long way in the last nine months and to see her now, you’d hardly believe it’s the same tiny, fragile newborn struggling to breathe last March. We’re grateful to the Father for bringing her so far and invite you to continue with us in prayer as she prepares for the next steps.
Little Liya from Gaza is making good progress after recovering from a virus. She’s on and off oxygen support as the doctors investigate why her oxygen levels are sometimes low.
Four-month-old Hamed from Gaza is facing some unexpected challenges, as he had seizures early this week. His doctors began treating him with medication right away and are conducting tests to determine the cause.
Our good friend Lya from Kurdistan had her dental repair under anesthesia on Sunday morning. The procedure was quite extensive, as all of Lya’s teeth had to be either repaired or removed. She’s feeling much better now and is back to her usual business of brightening everyone’s day at our house in Ashdod:
Two more sweet Kurdish children are back in Ashdod as well after being discharged from Sheba early in the week. Nozhdar is feeling great after his surgery and will have an echo next Wednesday to check how his heart is recovering:
This is the tireless love that we see time and time again with these families and doctors, a love that can stand in the face of dire circumstances and defiantly proclaim hope. To see Fayez’s doctors with little way forward, but still refusing to give up hope, is a great thing. And to stand in the place of his mother, giving up every moment of every day, every ounce of energy, her entire heart, for weeks, months, and years in devotion and care to one little child, is an even greater one.
Greater love, we are told, has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. I’d be foolish to claim to understand the complete depth of that proclamation from Messiah as he was on the brink of his ultimate sacrifice. But what I do know, what I understand perhaps a little better after witnessing it here, is that to love is to give freely of what we have to offer—our time, our energy, our hearts, ourselves—for the good of another. All he asks of us is that we do the small things set before us, to love deeply no matter the cost, and leave the rest in his hands.
Thank you for joining us in prayer,
Bria for Shevet Achim