Danah Harbi found love in the most unlikely of places five years ago: a refugee camp in Lebanon. An optometrist from Virginia, she was volunteering there when she met Mashaal Hamoud, a Syrian relief worker. They stayed in touch via WhatsApp.
She wanted him to come to the U.S. so they could get married but the Trump administration’s ban on travel from some Muslim majority countries prevented that. So she left her job and almost sold her house to move to Lebanon.
“It needed to be done because we wanted to be together,” Harbi said.
Months later, they found out they were expecting a baby. Harbi left Lebanon to deliver their child in the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic and better healthcare at home. Hamoud stayed behind and she mentally prepared to be alone during their child’s birth in April.
But President Biden’s reversal of the ban answered the couple’s prayers. Harbi contacted the State Department and her congressional representatives to help secure a visa for her husband — though she still wasn’t sure he’d be granted one. Months later, he was given a visa and he jumped on a plane.
He arrived in the U.S. just in time. Harbi started having contractions less than six hours later. “I woke up and I was like, I’m cramping up. And literally less than 12 hours later Adam was born,” Harbi said. “It’s all still like a dream.”