I must confess that I have become somewhat numb to the seemingly hopeless situation in Syria. I am only vaguely aware that the average Syrian citizen is trapped in a violent struggle between a self-serving government, desperate rebels, ISIS terrorists, and an occasional Russian bomber. However, even, and perhaps especially, in this seemingly hopeless situation, there is room for extraordinary leadership. One form it comes in is a group of doctors who refuse to leave their posts.
One of these courageous physicians, Dr. Rami Kalazi, was interviewed by National Public Radio a couple of weeks ago. When asked if it was possible for him to live elsewhere, Kalazi replied, “Yes, every one of our physicians actually have the chance to leave Syria, but we decided to stay.” This commitment to remain in Syria is not without risk. In fact, an airstrike on the Al Quds hospital in Aleppo recently took the life of one of Kalazi’s colleagues, Dr. Waseem Maaz. Maaz was one of only three pediatricians remaining in Aleppo, a city with a population of about 2 million. In talking about Maaz, Kalazi said, “(He) was my friend . . . He was kind. And he was working in two pediatric hospitals. He was a young man, the same age as mine, about 30 years.” Despite the danger, these doctors stay in Syria.
Extraordinary leaders get things done no matter what the cost. In the face of even the most difficult challenges, they are committed to fulfill their purpose and serve others. They pursue their purpose even when it means doing it alone. They do it even when it means risking everything. It is this level of commitment that makes them inspirational leaders. These Syrian doctors are truly extraordinary leaders.