In the late 90s, an Iraqi mother and her newborn daughter, Lava, found themselves in a terrifying situation: They were on Saddam Hussein’s hit list because they were Kurdish. So, they fled to the border, where the U.S. government granted asylum … to one of them.
Soon after the mother, Awaz Barwari, 22, arrived at the border, she learned that her 36-day-old daughter, Lava, wasn’t on the asylum list, and Awaz was then told they could either stay in Iraq or she could leave for the United States without her daughter!
“I told the man I was not leaving without my baby. He said I could leave her with other family in Iraq or not leave Iraqi. So I said I wasn’t leaving. Lt. Col. Pepin spotted the family leaving and intervened,” Barwari told Fox 5 Atlanta.
Lt. Col. Pepin quickly took the baby in his arms.
“I told them if the baby’s name was ‘Greg,’ she could come with me under my passport,” said Pepin.
“They didn’t understand what I was trying to do at first, but then they realized I was trying to help.”
They managed to arrive safely in the United States. However, Awaz’s family and Lt. Col. Pepin went their separate ways and never kept in touch.
“It was the first story I ever heard. She’s always told me about the man who saved my life,” Lava told WSB-TV.
So Lava decided to track down Greg Pepin and invite him to her graduation in 2015.
“The day I got Lava’s email was one of those signature days that kind of make your life worthwhile,” Pepin said.
“I’m happy you tracked me down. I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Pepin, who eventually became the vice president for Boeing International, told Lava.
The reunion was an emotional one. “It was worth it … it was! Absolutely,” he said.
Watch the video below:
Photo credit: Youtube Screenshot | ABC News