Little Hiba and her mother have left their imprints in my heart. Soon after their arrival in Israel I fell in love with that special little girl and her gentle, loving mother. The latter not only cared ceaselessly for her daughter, but also found countless ways to encourage and bless the other families and our staff. She also lived out her faith very genuinely. A beautiful woman inside and outside.

The day of Hiba's open heart surgery is deeply embedded in my memory. The hour before Hiba was taken into the operation room was one of the calmest and most peaceful I have ever experienced.

Hiba was sitting on her bed like a little angel, being totally at ease in that sterile environment. When she was wheeled away, she did not cry, as most children do. Her mother, however, started weeping as soon as she had lost sight of her daughter. The love a mother feels for her child is so pure and strong. We did not know then that this was the last time that we would see Hiba smiling and talking. 

During the following five weeks we spent many hours together in the hospital - waiting, crying, hoping, praying. My love and respect for the dedicated mother grew. One afternoon Kristina and I went to the nearby beach, to give the mother a break. We were joined by Workie, a wonderful nurse from Tanzania. For both of these women it was the first time at the beach.

This afternoon is one of the most precious moments I have experienced at Shevet. We were four women from four different countries, all at different stages of life. But there was one thing that had brought us together - the children entrusted into our care. 

There were small signs which caused us to hope that Hiba would recover well. But eventually, her heavenly Father called Hiba to be with Him.

When our little team came to Kurdistan a few weeks ago, we all had it on our heart to visit Hiba's family and express our condolences. Those visits are never easy, yet nevertheless very important. It gave especially Hiba's father the opportunity to voice his open questions and hurt. He and his family still struggle to grasp what had happened. It became very obvious to us that Hiba was the beloved little daughter and sister in that beautiful family. And now she was gone. 

Last week Sophie and I had the chance to visit Hiba's family again. Most of that time we spent with Hiba's mother and her two sisters, while the father and the brothers were otherwise engaged. We arrived in the afternoon. After half an hour Hiba's mother asked if were interested in going for a picnic. Of course we were.

She prepared some tea and snacks and we went to a nearby park were we soon were joined by many more women, who were mostly part of their extended family. I loved watching Hiba's mother engage in the conversations and seeing how once in a while she would smile and laugh. 

Sophie and I had the honor of spending time with Hiba's two sisters. The older sister is a quiet and beautiful young woman, who is studying to become an engineer.

Sima, the younger one, is a very funny and outgoing little girl. Throughout our time with them she posed for many pictures and constantly came up with new ideas for funny pictures.

From the outside it seems that both of them have processed Hiba's passing, but from experience we know that it usually takes more time. 

May Hiba's family experience the truth in Psalm 34:18 "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

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