PRESCOTT, Ariz. (MEDIA GENERAL) – “I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine, if that is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you.” This is what Kayla Mueller said kept her going, according to her family. The quote was part of a statement released Tuesday by Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) office following the confirmation of Mueller’s death.
On Tuesday, the family of the 26-year-old aid worker confirmed her death. Mueller had been taken hostage by ISIS in August 2013 while leaving a hospital in Syria.
Mueller ended up in Syria after spending years after college working with volunteer and aid organizations throughout her local community and across the globe.
“The common thread of Kayla’s life has been her quiet leadership and strong desire to serve others,” her family previously said in a statement.
“We in Prescott had been inspired by Kayla Mueller’s humanitarian dedication for many years,” The Daily Courier (www.dcourier.com) wrote in an editorial on the aid worker published just three days ago.
The newspaper went on to recount an incredible life-changing moment Mueller helped make happen.
The common thread of Kayla’s life has been her quiet leadership and strong desire to serve others.” – Statement from Kayla Muller’s family
“We remember how in 2013 she helped reunite a missing 6-year-old boy with his family after their refugee camp in Turkey was bombed,” The Daily Courier wrote.
From Prescott, Arizona, Mueller showed signs early on that she was headed toward a life of service. The Daily Courier reports she was recognized in high school with the Presidential Volunteer Award for working with AmeriCorps, Big Brothers Big Sisters and other volunteer groups.
After graduating from Northern Arizona University with a political science degree, Mueller worked in India, Tel Aviv, Israel and Palestine, according to her hometown paper.
In Arizona, she later worked for an HIV/AIDS clinic and volunteered at a women’s shelter. Then, she went to France to learn French so that she could go work in Africa, The Daily Courier went on to report.
In December 2012, Mueller traveled to the Turkish-Syrian border to work for Support to Life and Danish Refugee Council aid groups to help Syrian Refugees. Less than one year later, she was taken hostage while leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Syria.
“Kayla had been working along the Turkish-Syrian border for months helping the thousands of innocent men, women and children whose lives were torn apart by the humanitarian catastrophe created by Bashar Assad and the Syrian civil war,” Sen. McCain said in a statement.
One of the groups she worked with, Support to Life, describes itself as a humanitarian organization created to meet the basic needs and rights of communities affected by disasters.
Another, The Danish Refugee Council, provides support for conflict-affected people such as refugees. They work in 30 countries throughout the world advocating for people in conflict-affected countries and areas of the world.
Mueller’s parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, said in a statement, “Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice, and peace.”
“Kayla devoted her young life to helping people in need around the world, to healing the sick and bringing light to some of the darkest and most desperate places on Earth,” McCain said in a statement Tuesday. “Kayla’s remarkable legacy of service will never be forgotten, even by so many who never had the honor of meeting her.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report