Syrian family adopts Afraa, formerly 'Aya', newborn pulled from rubble
Afraa might not be living with her immediate family today, but her uncle's family seems to be taking good care of her.
Born an orphan under the rubble in northern Syria after the devastating earthquake that struck the country on February 6, Afraa al-Suwadi has been given a new chance at life when relatives decided to take her in.
The footage of the girl's rescue quickly went viral on social media, showing a man rushing from the rubble of a four-story building, taking the dust-covered baby into his arms. Suwadi's story made international headlines as Syria's "miracle baby".
Thousands of people have offered to adopt the baby girl who was born under the rubble of a collapsed building in north-west Syria, following Monday's earthquake— Worldfocus Blog (@WorldfocusBlog) February 10, 2023
When she was rescued, baby Aya - meaning miracle in Arabic - was still connected to her mother by her umbilical cord pic.twitter.com/71FL8xCBXJ
While Afraa was the sole survivor in her immediate family, relatives had pulled her from under the rubble with her umbilical cord still attached to her dead mother in the Syrian town of Jenderis.
"She is my soul, my life, and my whole world," her uncle Khalil al-Suwadi told AFP from his tent in the town, cradling the newborn.
The baby, who was first named Aya, meaning "a sign from God" in Arabic, was later given her mother's name, Afraa, and her uncle took her in about a week and a half after she had been admitted to the hospital.
A DNA test was carried out by medical staff to ensure they were indeed relatives.
"The day they told us we could have her I was overjoyed, it was indescribable," said the uncle, who had helped rescue her.
"This child is a living memory of her father, mother, and siblings" who perished, he said, adding that he would tell her the family's story one day when she is older.
Despite his wife giving birth a few days ago, he has devoted much of his time to caring for Afraa, who he says is "now like one of my daughters."
When he laid her on one of the mattresses in their temporary tent, his daughters gathered around the baby, embracing and kissing her.
It is worth noting that Afraa is only one of the scores of children who have lost their parents in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, stated that it has been monitoring unfortunate children like Afraa, whose parents are missing or deceased, and is working with hospitals to find extended family members who may be able to care for them.
The situation is of particular concern in Syria, a country that already bears the agony of hundreds of thousands of unknown numbers of orphans due to the destructive war on the country.
Moreover, Damascus has been hit by more than a decade of US draconian sanctions and there have been calls for them to be lifted to facilitate the arrival of aid. The US has lately complied with international calls to lift Syria-related sanctions amid the aftermath of the earthquake, albeit temporarily.
A massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 ripped through Syria on February 6, leaving more than 6,000 dead and injuring thousands of others.