The Remarkable Story Behind the 9-Year Old Syrian Refugee Attending the State of the Union

Ahmad wrote Obama to tell his story and what is happening to Syrian youth.

Byby ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN and PAT O'GARA
January 12, 2016, 4:33 PM

— -- Ahmad Alkhalaf has an infectious smile that lights up the room. All eyes were on the Syrian boy as he walked into Rep. Seth Moulton’s office.

It’s a special day for the nine-year old.

Ahmad was invited by the Massachusetts's congressman to be his guest at President Obama’s last State of the Union held tonight at the U.S. Capitol.

The story of how young Ahmad arrived here began in the countryside of Aleppo, Syria.

His family lost the home that his father had built in an airstrike during the Syrian war. So, the family moved into their grandparent’s home, but it too was bombed.

With ISIS forces approaching their country village, the family was forced to flee to a Syrian refugee camp.

But a bomb struck the camp, killing his three siblings. Ahmad, just seven years old at the time, lost both of his arms.

PHOTO: Ahmad Alkhalaf, 9, sits with his father, center right, Nadia Alawa, executive director at NuDay Syria, and Congressman Seth Moulton.
Ahmad Alkhalaf, 9, sits with his father, center right, Nadia Alawa, executive director at NuDay Syria, and Congressman Seth Moulton.
Pat O'Gara/ABC News

Now with his father in the Boston area, Ahmad is receiving medical care from Boston Children’s Hospital. His mother and four other siblings are in Turkey.

Ahmad wrote President Obama to tell his story and explain what is happening to Syrian youth.

“There are many children like me,” Ahmad wrote in the letter. “Even if they did not lose their arms, then they lost everything else.”

PHOTO: Ahmad Alkhalaf, 9, lost both of his arms after an airstrike hit his Syrian refugee camp. He is Congressman Seth Moulton's guest for the State of the Union.
Ahmad Alkhalaf, 9, lost both of his arms after an airstrike hit his Syrian refugee camp. He is Congressman Seth Moulton's guest for the State of the Union.
Pat O'Gara/ABC News

Moulton praised Ahmad for writing to the President and drawing attention to the plight of Syrians.

“The leadership you are showing at only nine years old is inspiring to everybody and should be a great example of how we need to uphold our values as Americans and welcome people, like Ahmad, who are trying to come here,” Moulton told ABC News.

“When we’re talking about the refugee issue, it’s real people. It’s real people like Ahmad,” he said.

Ahmad will be joined at the State of the Union by his father and Nadia Alawa, the executive director at NuDay Syria, a New England-based non-profit that has launched a fundraising campaign to help cover Ahmad's medical bills and provide him prosthetic arms.

Alawa is also serving as Ahmad's translator while on his trip to Washington D.C.

PHOTO: Ahmad Alkhalaf, 9, sits with his father and Nadia Alawa, executive director at NuDay Syria, left.
Ahmad Alkhalaf, 9, sits with his father and Nadia Alawa, executive director at NuDay Syria, left.
Pat O'Gara/ABC News

Before joining Moulton for a private tour of the Capitol, Ahmad visited the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

He said he recognized some of the planes, not from books or TV, but because they looked like the planes he was used to seeing over his refugee camp in Syria.

Ahmad looks forward to being reunited with his mother and siblings, as well as getting his prosthetic arms.

The young boy told ABC News, speaking through his interpreter, that the first thing he wants to do with his new arms is to learn how to drive a car.

Aside from that, Ahmad wants to be a doctor one day so he can help other people. He speaks of a "new future" and the start of a new life.

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