Kayla Mueller’s calling

Amy Davidson writes: In May, 2013, Kayla Jean Mueller spoke at the Kiwanis Club in Prescott, Arizona, about her work with Syrian refugees. Mueller’s father was a club member, and the Daily Courier, Prescott’s local paper, photographed her, smiling and wearing a lime-green cardigan, in front of a banner that said “KIWANIS HONORS: WE ARE PROUD OF . . . ” with the chapter’s various badges. The Courier reported that she told the audience about helping to reunite two members of a family, a father and a six-year-old boy, and quoted her saying, “In the chaos of waking up in the middle of the night and being shelled, we’re hearing of more children being separated from their families by accident.” She described how she and her colleagues, in their work with traumatized, displaced children, would encourage them to draw their ideal place; they always chose their own home. “They told us everything about their house. They said, ‘There’s a tree in front of my house that I climb.’ ‘There’s this squeaky door that my dad never fixed.’ ”

Three months after that talk, Mueller disappeared in Syria. She spent more than a year and a half as a prisoner of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham — separated from her own family, who kept her name out of the press in an effort to protect her. On Friday, the group announced that she was dead; that has not officially been confirmed. She was, or — one might still hope — is, twenty-six years old. [Continue reading…]

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