While in Raqqa, a city devastated by war, we received a distress call from a school in February 2018. As experts in disposing of bombs, we were cautious not to act impulsively, knowing that ISIS often used the sounds of children in distress as a trap.
A frightened Chihuahua was cowering behind a concrete pedestal, the lone survivor amidst the lifeless bodies of his family. Our dear son Barry came into this world during the tumultuous times of war.
At first, I was hesitant about approaching Barry. But eventually, I put on my gloves and decided to offer him a biscuit. As he nibbled on it, I gently petted him. Before leaving, I made sure to leave him with enough provisions. Meeting Barry filled me with hope, something I hadn’t felt since I left the Army a few years ago. Coming home had been difficult, with the lasting impact of war and my own personal struggles weighing me down.
My visit to Syria for my friend’s funeral rejuvenated my passion for serving as a soldier. When I was given the opportunity to join the Syrian team, I eagerly accepted it.
After a month of knowing each other, I wanted to find Barry at the ruins of the school. Luckily, I heard one of his colleagues calling out his name and was relieved to locate him. Without hesitation, I gently touched his head with my hand, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
To earn the trust of Barry, I had to take a risk and put my faith in him.