From earthquake-ravaged Turkey, a story of love and courage, as a group of nurses in the hospital of Gaziantep risk their lives to protect premature babies.
By Alessandro Gisotti
Running to save yourself? Or running to protect others? Amidst the images of devastation from Turkey and Syria, shattered by the earthquake of 6 February, there are also pictures that tell of gestures capable of shining a light in the thick darkness of this terrible tragedy. This is the case of a group of nurses at the hospital in the Turkish city of Gaziantep who—when the earth began to shake—did not head for the exits, but ran in the opposite direction, toward the intensive care unit housing prematurely born babies. There, the nurses stayed beside the newborns until the earthquake was over, holding the incubators, which, swaying violently, were in danger of toppling over and crushing the babies.
Perhaps we would not have known anything about this extraordinary act of protecting life had the incident not been caught on some of the hospital’s surveillance cameras. The nurses did not know how long the earthquake would last, let alone how destructive it would be. They did not know if having made that choice, they would be saved. They knew for certain, though, that if they did not intervene, those newborn babies would be in danger of death. And they chose to protect them.
In the course of the ten years of his Pontificate—and most recently during his trip to Africa—Pope Francis has often reminded us: Women give life. Women protect life. Women are bulwarks of peace, first of all because they know (in a profound way) that war destroys that very life that they have generated. These nurses bore witness to precisely that strength, gentle and tenacious, of which the Pope speaks, a natural strength that does not seek power but manifests itself as a gift. The children saved on that tragic night were not their own children. Yet now they have become so, somehow, because they have been ‘born a second time’ thanks to their courage and love. “Whoever saves one life, saves the whole world,” reads the Talmud. Those nurses saved the whole world.