Peacemaking in Libya: One Heart, One Juice at a Time

Young Othman is prepared for the surgery that will fix his heart. He was missing his mom a little bit.

First he asked for water. Then he asked for juice. Again and again. Less than an hour after his lifesaving heart surgery in a Libyan hospital, Othman was awake and demanding juice. His voice was still hoarse from the effects of anesthesia, but he was persistent. 

“Juice! Juice! Juice!”

Othman gets prepared for surgery.

Othman gets prepared for surgery.

His surgery was the kind you hope every child to have—quick, efficient, effective. But Othman woke up THIRSTY! He’d had been fasting since the previous evening, and was already getting a little cranky before his surgery. But after? His heart was now well, but his stomach was definitely not happy! 

It was still too soon after surgery for juice, so a nurse on the international team distracted Othman with a game on her phone. He played like a boss! But during every lull in the game, he asked for juice.

Othman plays on a nurses' phone.

One of the local nurses comforted Othman, giving him encouragement in his own language. But Othman used the attention for only one thing: to ask for juice!

“Juice! Juice! Juice!”

A local Libyan nurse talks calmly to Othman, trying to comfort.

Othman knew exactly what he wanted, and he wasn’t shy to ask for it.

Othman reminds me a lot of Libya itself. The Libyan people know exactly what they want: peace, stability, opportunity. Benghazi neighbourhoods want the bombings to stop. Civil servants want to be paid for the many months they’ve worked without any reimbursement from governments in chaos. Residents want a stable government that can manage the needs of the people—the kind of stability that can provide a home and hope for it’s young people, that can give it’s children the kind of care they need.

The Libyan people know exactly what they want, and aren’t shy to ask for it. But few are listening. In that void, ISIS is making a home for itself.

And in the midst of the need, uncertainty, and growing presence of ISIS—there is you. You show up in the form of a highly skilled medical team, caring for their children. You show up in the form of doctors and nurses who teach—investing in young Libyan health care workers who will help to build a stable country. You show up in arms to hold babies, and you show up in hands bringing juice.

Yes, Othman finally got his juice. And you? You brought a taste of peace with it.

Othman, with a big smile on his face, ready to head for home after his heart surgery.