A photo of an infant recovering in the ICU

'Passed away.'

'Expired.'

Or just the simple ‘gone.’

I’ve heard most of the typical substitutes about Mohammed today. Why is it so hard for us to even say the word… death?

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Meet Aland.

Born in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Aland's parents discovered his heart defect when he was just 40 days old. After over a decade of searching, Aland's mom and dad finally found the hope they'd been searching for at the hands of 'enemy' Arabs to the south.

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A photo of Aland receiving an echo screening

When I moved to Iraq a few years ago, I was confident about a lot.

More than confident, I was certain. About my abilities, plans, and—above all—my ability to love. I’d have thought it uncouth or naive to say at the time, but I really thought I loved everyone. Even writing it out now seems silly, but it's true.

But your twenties are filled with lessons in limitations, and this has been one of the most important of them all: to love all is to love none.

We are meant to love deeply, personally.

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Jess listening to the family in Aland's living room

 The day before ISIS overtook the city of Mosul in Iraq, I was sitting in a small village with a family whose son, Aland, we had recently provided with a lifesaving surgery.

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"How I Met Aland"—Danielle's Story

Aland and Danielle posing for a photo

We all know how it feels to read so many painful headlines about Iraq, which is why we're glad you're here.

There are people all over the world who haven't given upon the people here. They're as committed as we are to writing more hopeful stories for families in Iraq, and Danielle's is one of our favorite. While living in Iraqi Kurdistan, she met Aland (see what we've already written about about him here) and, after hearing of his decade-long search for a heart surgery, she refused to say no.

Here is her story...

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