Ahmed Saleh watches his baby daughter play in his front room in Sheffield with a huge smile on his face.
Kawther was trapped in war-torn Yemen for nearly ten months as bombs and bullets fell daily until Ahmed sold the family jewellery and travelled more than 6,000 miles to bring her home.
He had been unable to rescue his daughter earlier after a passport application for the 15-month-old was severely delayed.
With no progress in sight, Ahmed appealed to Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield for help and Kawther’s passport was finally issued following pressure to speed up the process.
But 37-year-old Ahmed had to raise funds for the 6,000 mile trip after the British Consulate in Oman agreed to liaise with Yemeni border guards for a handover.
Finally, on July 17, daughter and father were reunited.
“I couldn’t believe it, I honestly thought I wasn’t going to see her again,” Ahmed said.
“It’s been awful without her. I’ve hardly slept or eaten it’s been a nightmare.
“She’s survived bombs and bullets, witnessed death in the street and overcome disease. She’s like a miracle child. Sometimes I look at her in my living room playing and I can’t believe it’s real.” Ahmed’s journey started on July 14 after a friend drove him to Manchester Airport, from there he then flew to Doha in Qatar. From 48C heat in the Gulf, he then went on to the Omani capital of Muscat and boarded a connect flight to Salalah in the south.
But in Oman’s second city, he befriended a taxi driver who was so moved by his story, he agreed to the dangerous journey into Yemen itself to collect Kawther.
“I waited for what seemed like an age at the crossing and when she came to me she was crying hysterically for her grandmother.
“That was the worst moment of my life, she was with me but mentally she was scarred – no child should have to go through what she has been through.”
Ahmed, a Sheffield resident since 1999, and his wife Amal, 32, had their daughter in Yemen in May 2014, but had to return to the UK for Ahmed to care for his sick mother.
As war broke out in Yemen, Kawther a British-Yemeni national, was eligible for a passport but as delays went on, the situation got more severe.
Being cared for by family, Kawther would wake up to the sounds of explosions and the screams of the dying – something Ahmed thinks she has brought home with her.
“One thing I’ve noticed with her is that sometimes when we are out, she gets really scared at loud bangs and will become more withdrawn and gets really upset.” But Kawther is slowly adapting well and Ahmed added: “I’d like to thank Paul Blomfield, The Star, friends, family in Yemen and people who gave me money to fund the trip. I’m forever thankful.”