As mortar shells began raining down on a neighborhood in Damascus in mid-July, the Tawashi family began running for their lives. Arin Al Dakkar and Machhour Al Tawashi grabbed their two oldest children as they fled the area, believing other family members had grabbed their youngest child, Bushr Al Tawashi. It was not until the family reached a refugee center that they realized Bushr was not with the other family members.
According to the Huffington Post,
continued heavy fighting prevented Bushr's mother, Arin, and father, Machhuour, from returning to Damascus to look for him. Believing their youngest son had perished in the attack, the family continued on to Cyprus where they planned to seek asylum. Since that time, the family has been grieving the loss of Bushr.
Bushr had survived the shelling however, found wandering through the rubble of his home by another family fleeing the area. That family took him to members of the rebel army in hopes they could keep him safe. The rebels cared for Bushar until they could get him to a refugee center. According to the Cyprus Mail
, when the rebels dropped Bushr off at the refugee center, family friends recognized him and contacted his parents in Cyprus.
When the family learned that Bushr was safe, they turned to Stella Constantinou, a Cypriot lawyer, for help. Machhour's sister volunteered to return to Damascus on Sept. 9th so she could care for Bushr until Constantinou could make arrangements for Bashr to be reunited with his parents.
Constantinou was able to get a member of the Cyprus ruling party to assist her, and spoke with Interior Minister Eleni Mavrou and the foreign ministry. After a lengthy process that included proving that Bushr was the lost son of Arin and Machhour, the Cyprus embassy in Syria assisted Bushr and his aunt get to the Cyprus embassy in Beirut Lebanon. Machhour met the two at the embassy and returned to Cyprus with his youngest son.
Constantinou told BBC News
the family was elated to be reunited with Bashr, telling her "thank you" repeatedly. She went on to say:
"As a grandmother of a two-year-old myself, there's nothing I wouldn't do to get that boy back to his parents."