Soon after I started this blog a news story caught my attention and my heart.
A young woman volunteer, Kayla Jean Mueller, was abducted following a visit to a hospital operated by the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Aleppo, Syria.
She was held in captivity by the Islamic State for 18 horrific months with three other American hostages. Kayla died on February 6, 2015, reportedly following the bombing of a location where she was being held captive.
After reading and watching the news reports about the life-and death- of Kayla, I wrote this.
I cannot think of anything else worth saying today other than to express my sadness for and sympathy to the family of Kayla Mueller. On the evening news last night I heard Kayla’s aunt describe her as “noble beyond her years.”
I had never heard of Kayla until a few days ago, but her story touches my heart. I have a son about the same age; and like her, his work and passions take him all over the world. I cannot imagine getting an email like the one her parents received confirming her death.
At only 26 years old, Kayla had already traveled to India, Israel, Palestine and Syria on humanitarian endeavors and in Arizona worked at a women’s shelter and with AIDS patients.
In a letter to her family from captivity, she expressed regret that she was causing them pain. I hope the memory of this beautiful young woman brings some comfort to their grieving hearts.
Recently while reviewing my older posts, I wondered what happened to Kayla’s family after her death; perhaps someone had written about her, or established a memorial of some sort.
I am pleased to see that Kayla was not forgotten, and her work was not in vain. I want to let you know what has happened since her capture and murder in 2015.
FOR KAYLA is a website devoted to her humanitarian projects, including quotes from her blog and the touching letter she wrote to her family from captivity.
Her are just a few of the quotes from her blog and letter.
This really is my life’s work, to go where there is suffering. I suppose, like us all, I’m learning how to deal with the suffering of the world inside myself… to deal with my own pain and most importantly to still have the ability to be proactive.
The gardener knows how to turn garbage into compost. Therefore our anger, sadness, and fear is the best compost for our compassion.
I have been shown in darkness, light and have learned that even in prison, one can be free.
There are links to many news reports about Kayla which you may have seen, including this moving video by CBS News anchor Scott Pelley
Kayla’s family did indeed establish a foundation in Kayla’s name, which they called Kayla’s Hands a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation “to further her humanitarian efforts both locally and internationally.”
On the website they wrote this about their daughter-
Kayla devoted her life to helping others. Kayla’s heart was for the innocent children thrown into a life they should never be in; for moms trying to raise them alone and for families that needed help to stay as one; and for the soldiers, reporters and humanitarian workers who have seen such horror as well.
She wanted to help heal wounded hearts, minds and bodies bringing happiness and joy to all she could. It was this commitment that drove her to help victims in shelters near our home in Prescott, Arizona and to leave home for far away places she felt called to help.
She spent her life working for those who needed it most, using her voice to amplify those of others, and standing in solidarity with people as they struggle for their own rights and dignity. Even in captivity, she gave comfort to the Yazidi girls held with her and others suffering around her. If there was work to be done in service to others, she did it.
On the second anniversary of Kayla’s death, her family dissolved the foundation and donated $120,000 to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) an organization Kayla believed in and had worked with.
The foundation also donated funds to
- Iraqi Bridge/Dr. Mirza , for work on behalf of the Yazidi victims of genocide,
- Save the Children , for work to save the Syrian children and children throughout the world,
- Syrian American Medical Society/SAMS who continue to work on behalf of Syria’s war victims,
- Folds of Honor to provide educational scholarships to the families of America’s fallen and disabled service members
- Kiwanis Club of Prescott Arizona who faithfully work “for the kids”.
Doctors Without Borders used the donation to establish an endowment fund in her memory. From their website-
“The endowment will be used to support medical and humanitarian aid programs operating in nearly 70 countries and providing care to more than 8 million people every year affected by armed conflicts, epidemics, as well as natural and man-made disasters.”
“By donating to Doctors Without Borders” noted her parents Marsha and Carl, “we can ensure Kayla’s spirit and her legacy of healing is continued in the world.”
Your turn to explore
I invite you to browse the links above to learn more about these organizations and the work they do to bring the HEART of health to people around the world, work that I and this blog consider much needed and worthy of support.
(This blog is not compensated for listing this organizations here.)
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sharing the HEART of health through action
Thanks for reading about Kayla’s remarkable life. Please share and follow my blog for information and inspiration to explore and share the HEART of health in your life.