Two years ago today, Kayla Mueller was killed by a Jordanian airstrike while in ISIS captivity. To honor their daughter, Marsha and Carl Mueller are donating $120,000 in her name to the group they say abandoned her.
The Muellers are dissolving their family foundation and giving the money to Doctors Without Borders to establish an endowment in Kayla’s name. The money will support the organizations medical and humanitarian aid programming in almost 70 countries.
“By donating to Doctors Without Borders, we can ensure Kayla’s legacy of healing is continued and that her spirit will remain out in the world. This gesture is a reflection of Kayla’s heart,” the Mueller family said in a statement.
Mueller, who was 25 at the time, was in Aleppo in August 2013 doing aid work to help refugees from the Syrian civil war. She was traveling with a friend from a hospital there on her way back to Turkey in a vehicle marked with the Doctors Without Borders logo when members of a little-known terrorist organization kidnapped her.
She was held, tortured and raped by members of the Islamic State group, which has since grown in prominence and reportedly moved her multiple times while she was in captivity. A hostage rescue operation in July 2014 failed because she, along with other hostages, had been moved days before help came.
Mueller didn’t work for Doctors Without Borders and the organization said it would have advised against her entering Syria, but her parents felt the medical charity abandoned their daughter after she was kidnapped. Doctors Without Borders declined to work to free Kayla. The Muellers say the organization withheld key information they needed to begin negotiating with the Islamic State group for her release.
While the U.S. government does not pay ransom, the Muellers worked with the FBI in negotiations with Kayla’s captors.
Doctors Without Borders said last year in an interview with ABC News that it had no “moral responsibility” to negotiate for Kayla’s freedom as it was doing for its own staff that had been kidnapped. Jason Cone, the organization’s U.S. director, called her family’s donation “an act of great and humbling generosity.”
“Based on what I have learned about Kayla from her family and her writings, she was incredibly compassionate, devoted, and connected to neglected people,” Cone told ABC News. “Kayla’s legacy will live on every day, in part through the formation of this endowment and the support it will provide to [Doctors Without Border’s] medical work throughout the world.”
Other money in the family foundation’s now dissolved account will be distributed “to other organizations Kayla would be passionate about,” including Save the Children and those working with Syrian refugees and war victims.
“We see signs of Kayla everywhere and will always believe she should be here,” the Mueller family statement said. “We know Kayla would want every penny to go toward any and every effort that seeks to meet the ever growing demands of this unsettled world, bringing the medical and humanitarian help needed with kindness and goodness.”
Those wishing to contribute to the endowment can do so by indicating the funds be directed to “Kayla’s Hands — the Kayla Mueller Memorial Endowment Fund” at Doctors Without Borders.