Indeed it is true that true love survives under any circumstance. Not even the worst tragedy brought about by Yolanda, the strongest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines, hindered the online romance between Houssam Hammoudi, a 31-year-old Canadian Muslim based in Montreal and Mary Grace Acojedo of Ormoc City (Phil.), to take full bloom and ended in a hospital wedding.
The story between their first meeting on Facebook and how it eventually ended in their marriage was long but the courage, dedication, sympathy and unconditional love exemplified by Mr. Hamoudi could have only been a spur of the moment but it is something so amazing and tremendously admirable.
Behind every tragedy, we will witness a few shining examples of humanity. This is one of them. I am privileged to share this great love story with you.
This young Canadian man dashed over from Montreal in Canada to Ormoc City in Leyte to rescue his girlfriend whom he had never met face-to-face, except on Facebook and Skype.
Houssam Hammoudi, a 31-year-old Canadian Muslim based in Montreal, was horrified by the scenes of devastation he saw on TV when Typhoon Yolanda hit the eastern Visayas, Philippines.
He feared for the safety of Mary Grace Acojedo, of Ormoc City in Leyte. He had befriended 22-year-old Mary Grace via Facebook and Skype – and an online romance was blooming between them over the eight months since they got to know each other.
Houssam, a laboratory engineer with a research and development company, was worried for Mary Grace’s safety. He took leave from work and flew to Cebu. Once he arrived, he got on a ferry and reached storm-ravaged Ormoc City.
Mary Grace’s brother brought him to a private clinic where he saw his online fiancee face-to-face for the first time.
She was in bad shape. Her jaw, left leg, left arm, wrist and some fingers were broken, and she had deep cuts in the face and body. She badly needed surgery, including one to save her left leg from amputation.
It was traumatic meeting her for the first time under such tragic circumstances.
Houssam knew he had to get Mary Grace out of Ormoc and into a hospital fast. He paid her bills and carried her out of the clinic. A tricycle took them to the port.
There, he found that all ferry tickets had been sold out. Thousands of passengers, including those from worst-hit Tacloban City, had flocked there and were desperate to get out.
Houssam ran to the Philippine Coast Guard office to plead for help. A Coast Guard officer, whose name he could not recall, helped put them on a ferry to Cebu.
There, Houssam rushed Mary Grace to a private hospital where she underwent a series of surgeries.
Working besides her hospital bed, Houssam launched a blog called “Operation Saving Grace” in which he said: If I had delayed getting her to a hospital she could have lost her leg.
Houssam spent close to P500,000 (almost US$10,000) for Mary Grace’s surgeries.
But soon after he uploaded his blog, his company and friends sent in another 500,000 pesos for Mary Grace’s continuing treatment.
Last week, Houssam proposed marriage to Mary Grace.
A Muslim Imam agreed to come to the hospital to perform the wedding rite, asking Houssam to repeat the word “Yes, I do” three times to the question, “Do you accept Mary Grace to be your wife until the day of judgment?”
Mary Grace, who still could not walk, was dressed in a white-lace blouse. Her left arm in a sling, and stitches crisscrossing her face, she sat up in the hospital bed as the Imam read the rites.
Houssam wore a new white shirt bearing the words, “Bangon Ormoc (Rise up, Ormoc).”
They were joined by Mary Grace’s mother, Grace, her older brother, Nathaniel, her youngest sister, Merry Christelle, and Mary Grace’s 6-year-old son, John Allen.
The newlyweds exchanged silver wedding rings bought at a local store.
The couple plan to settle in Canada, along with little John Allen, once the major surgeries on Mary Grace’s wrist, chin and leg are completed.
(Shared, with minor editing, from a friend’s post on Facebook)