It all started with a photograph in the newspaper. With Barbara Marlowe looking into the beautiful eyes of a little Iraqi girl. An innocent victim of someone else’s war. Eyes that seemed to plead with Barbara, “Help me.”

Teeba Furat Fadhil suffered devastating burn injuries from the explosion of an improvised explosive device that took the life of her brother. She was profiled in a story about young victims of the Iraq War. And while so many of us would see the image, feel the pain, and move on, Barbara did something extraordinary. She decided she would try to help Teeba.

Barbara reached out to the reporter behind the story in the paper, and began the process that would bring this resilient young girl to America for the care she needed. But – in a twist filled with blessings – would also lead to Teeba joining the Marlowe family.

This unlikely story only happened, says Barbara, because God gave her an intense focus and a purpose.

“There was so much we needed to do to get her here, and when I talk about God ‘putting on the blinders’, it was the only way I think it could have happened. Because I really feel that if you look at the big picture of something, you won’t take the first step. Because there were so many obstacles – you have to look at things in smaller increments, or just a few steps.”

“If I had looked at the big picture, I would have been completely overwhelmed. You have to remember, trying to bring a 5 year old child here from the Middle East – from a country you’re at war in – and then trying to navigate through that political quagmire was so daunting. It was very, very difficult.”

But alongside that God-given focus came vital encouragement when the process seemed most hopeless.

“I had already secured a commitment from Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital that they were willing to evaluate her. They couldn’t commit to treating her, but they did commit to evaluating her if I could get her here.”

“And I realized I could get the pieces and parts in place here in Cleveland, but to get her out of that country at that time was so difficult. I’d go three steps forward and two steps back in this continuous cycle. One day I was standing in my driveway and screaming at God. Just being a complete brat, and yelling at him. Asking him, ‘What good are you?’ and, ‘Why aren’t you helping me?’ And just being really obstinate.”

“As I turned to come back into the house, at my feet was a golf ball marker. Which was definitely not there before! When I picked it up and turned it over, it said, ‘God loves you’. I can tell you at that exact moment I had the chills that just went up my arms. I just knew everything was going to be OK. I knew it.”


Barbara Marlowe authors the gripping, true story: A Brave Face: Two Cultures, Two Families & the Iraqi Girl Who Bound Them Together.

On the Road with Barbara Marlowe

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