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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 20, 2006

Kamehameha teacher finally out of harm's way

By Brittany Yap
Advertiser Staff Writer

S. Ahmadia

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A Big Island teacher's seven days in Lebanon's war zone ended last night when a U.S. helicopter whisked her to safety.

Sarah Ahmadia, 27, is in Cyprus today awaiting a flight to London and then to Hawai'i.

When she arrived in Beirut from a mountain village, Ahmadia said that American officials told her that she and her relatives would have to wait for transport to Cyprus.

"I was hysterical. All the anger and frustration and fear I have been holding in ... just came out. It was not my best moment."

Her brother Aron, a 24-year-old graduate student who is spending the summer in Chicago, arranged hotel accommodations for his sister, her two aunts and three cousins after their initial evacuation was postponed, said the siblings' father, Jamil.

Sarah Ahmadia's plight has played out to a national audience: She's been interviewed three times by CNN and once by MSNBC. She has been giving up-to-the-minute accounts of the military conflict.

A biology teacher at Kamehameha Schools Kea'au campus, Ahmadia traveled to Lebanon on July 8 to visit family in her father's homeland for the first time. But she was caught up in the war, moving from the beach to a remote mountain town, where she stayed until she got the word to evacuate to Beirut.

Ahmadia said going back to Beirut was difficult because the Israeli army had targeted roads and infrastructure. As they drove to the evacuation point, Ahmadia said part of the capital city looked like a layer of rubble.

"It's one of the saddest things I've ever seen in my life," she said.

Reach Brittany Yap at byap@honoluluadvertiser.com.