Daughter of Freedom: Zadi’s Story

Born in Zeitun, Turkey, in 1919 or 1920, Azadouhi (“daughter of freedom” in Armenian) spent her early life in search of safety. When she was just a baby, Zadi and her mother were deported from the Cilicia region of southern Turkey. Zadi was suffering from malnutrition, dysentery, favus, measles, and pneumonia when she was found in Marash, Turkey in 1921.

Near East Relief worker Dr. Charles Gannaway did not expect the emaciated baby to survive. Zadi surprised everyone at the American hospital by growing strong and healthy. Mrs. Gannaway became especially fond of the little girl. When the Gannaways were forced to leave Turkey for Syria, they took Zadi with them. Little Zadi was popular with Near East Relief workers like Nellie Miller, who enjoyed watching Zadi grow into a lively, talkative little girl.

It was later discovered that both of Zadi’s biological parents had actually survived the deportations. They ultimately gave Zadi up for adoption because they felt that she could have a better and more stable life with the Gannaways. When the family returned to the United States, the Gannaways legally adopted Zadi. Mrs Gannaway lectured widely on her experiences as a Near East Relief worker. Zadi traveled with her mother to speaking engagements and became known for her beautiful singing voice. She sang in English, Armenian, and Turkish for audiences throughout the States. She even sang for President Calvin Coolidge.

As an adult, Zadi attended college and earned a degree in nursing. She married Helton Lowe Hale, with whom she had children. Azadouhi Margaret Gannaway Hale died in 2009.