On the anniversary of their children’s death, caused by a drunk driver last year, the Abdallah and Sakr families have launched “i4give Day,” a day of forgiveness and celebration.
The special day was declared by the two Lebanese families during a ceremony on Sunday, in cooperation with the Australian state of New South Wales, ABC News reported.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, his wife Jenny, and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian attended the ceremony, during which family members released 4 white doves and some butterflies in the children’s memory.
The three siblings Antony (13), Angelina (12), and Sienna Abdallah (9) were headed to buy ice-cream together with their cousin, Veronique Sakr (11) when an out-of-control car crashed into the pavement, killing them.
Despite their immense pain, the Sakr and Abdallah families have been vocal about forgiving 30-year-old driver Samuel Davidson, who has pleaded guilty to 7 charges, including 4 charges of manslaughter.
“Friends, I am in pain, my days are empty, my heart is aching,” Danny Abdallah, the bereaved father of Antony, Angelina, and Sienna, said during the launch of i4give Day.
“Tears of hopelessness visit me each day. I am dying on the inside and it’s hard to take much more,” he said. He explained that he has had to make a choice between taking “a path of destruction or a path of construction.”
“I forgive myself and I forgive the offender for the greater good of my family,” he said, stressing that forgiveness has allowed his family to live in a state of “peace and grace.”
“We chose to turn our tragedy into a greater goodness,” Leila Abdallah said on her part. “We chose to carry our cross with dignity. We chose forgiveness and love over hatred.”
Bridget Sakr, Veronique’s mother, has maintained a similar sentiment.
“Forgiveness allows us to move forward with our lives and takes away that bitterness and anger and really focuses on us healing,” she told 2GB radio on Monday, the anniversary of the tragic incident.
The families’ strength and faith throughout the ordeal have been remarkable, and their ability to forgive in the days after the crash was described as “breathtaking” by PM Morrison.
In addition to immortalizing the memory of the 4 children, i4give Day serves to encourage people to reflect on events and relationships in their lives