Every day, Sally Faulkner scours the internet looking for evidence that her children, Noah and Lahela, are safe.
The two children, aged just 3 and 5 at the time, are thought to be with their father Ali Elamine in Lebanon, after he refused to return them after a scheduled short holiday. The family made headlines around the world after a botched 60 Minutes attempt to kidnap the two children from a Beirut street and bring them home to Australia.
For most of us, those headlines have faded into memory and anecdote. But Faulkner lives and dreams of her missing children every day. And when she came across this school photo of Lahela, now six, she was moved to share it with the world in the hope it would reach her daughter’s father’s eyes.
“This little girl’s name is Lahela and she has been denied contact and her right to a relationship with her mummy for nearly two years. Two birthdays missed, two Christmas celebrations, too many everyday memories to keep count of.”
“Parental alienation is NOT OK! What is happening here is wrong. This photo is proof.”
“Did you notice her? I did. Straight away. Little Lahela is being forced to live a life without her mummy. Who in this photo is not engaged with her surroundings. Who probably turns to the memories of her mummy for comfort whenever she possibly can.”
“This little girl is missing part of her heart and her mummy is missing her with all of hers.”
She finishes the post with a plea to the children’s father, Ali Elamine, to end their children’s alienation.
“The father of this little girl is Ali Elamine and he is responsible for alienating her and her brother Noah from their mum.”
“Lahela and Noah's voices are not being heard.”
“This photo of Lahela doesn't actually need words though. Look at this little girl .... what do you see? Be her voice, be her brother’s voice. These two children deserve to have their mum in their lives.”
“Parental Alienation IS abuse! Lahela & Noah need to have contact with their mum so they feel whole. So they can have their emotional needs met. Ali Elamine ... you are the only one who can change this. Look at this photo of your daughter … really look at it. This image of Lahela tells a story that no 6 year old should have to tell.”
According to Child Recovery Australia, an organisation set up to help parents retrieve children from an abducting parent, over 250 children are taken into or out of Australia by one parent every year. Over 50 per cent never return, as they’re taken to places where Australia has no jurisdiction to get them back.
Children who are denied contact with a loving parent routinely suffer depression, loss of security and trust, loneliness, anger and a fear of abandonment.
Sally Faulkner wants you to share this picture of Lahela. She hopes that one day her daughter’s father will hear her pleas. Or at the very least, when Lahela and Noah are grown, they will find their mother of their own accord, and know she never, ever stopped looking for or loving them.