Real Life

After the horror crash that took three of her children, Leila did something totally unexpected

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Each day when Leila Abdallah wakes up, she feels grateful for her children, husband and family.

But her grief never goes away.

On February 1, 2020, seven children were walking and riding their bikes on the footpath to buy ice-cream in Oatlands, Sydney, when a reckless driver under the influence of drugs and alcohol crashed into them.

Despite the tragic loss of her three beautiful children, Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna, eight, as well as her niece Veronique Sakr, 11, Leila was able to forgive the driver.

She says it was her Christian upbringing that taught her the importance of forgiving in times of despair and allowed her to forgive Samuel Davidson, who was travelling at 133 km/h in a 50km/h zone before the accident occurred.

In the moment, it came to Leila instinctively, and it’s an act she says has given her a sense of freedom.

“Sometimes things happen to remind you how precious life is and how easily it can be taken,” she tells Woman’s Day from her home. “Let’s live our days with peace and love and with forgiveness.”

(Image: Phillip Castleton/

Leila, 38, a mother and housewife, wants to spread this powerful message across the world.

“Forgiveness has allowed me to focus not only on my own pain but also on others who are grieving,” she says.

Leila reveals that it is through this act that all three families involved in the tragedy were able to stick together despite their grief and pain.

“As I was preparing my kids’ funeral, I forgave the driver,” she recalls. “After I did so, people were telling me they had chosen to forgive in their own lives, too. I thought, how can we keep this message alive?”

The driver later pleaded guilty to a number of charges including four counts of manslaughter and was sentenced to a minimum of 21 years in jail, which he later appealed.

“When we went to court, my daughter Liana said, ‘I feel sorry for him.’ Even Liana forgave the driver and felt sorry for the man when she was also hit by the car and lost her siblings.

“Forgiveness has the power to impact future generations. It helped my kids to heal.”

Angelina, Antony and Sienna were tragically killed in the 2020 crash.

(Image: Supplied.)

In the lead-up to the anniversary of their children’s passing in 2021, Leila and her husband Danny, 45, decided to turn it into a day of celebration rather than mourning by creating the awareness foundation i4give.

“The first of February 2020 was the day our kids entered eternal life,” explains Leila.

“On that day, we encourage others to search in their hearts to forgive and receive the benefits of forgiveness.”

Since the foundation was created, Leila and Danny have been invited to speak about their message across the world, including the Vatican, and Leila was named Mother of the Year by FamilyVoice Australia.

In March last year, Leila, Danny and their children, Liana, 13, Alex, eight, and Michael, six, were blessed with another family member, Selina.

“Selina is my baby girl, we are obsessed with her,” says Leila. “Everywhere we go, she lights up the room. There is a real aura about her.”

It was Leila’s surviving daughter Liana who chose her name, which is a combination of Angelina and Sienna.

Leila says she would love to have more children.

“Every child is a blessing,” she says. “I would love to have more.”

Adorable Selina has the family wrapped around her little finger.

(Image: Phillip Castleton/

This year, on the third anniversary of their children’s death, the couple are hosting 
an i4give festival on February 4 
at Prince Alfred Square in Parramatta, west of Sydney.

“This will be our third year of i4give. It’s a big festival where people can come and have fun, and we’ll be encouraging people to start to learn forgiveness at a young age.”

This year’s theme is “to keep forgiving”.

Leila pauses when asked if it’s hard or if there are moments of weakness.

“We all struggle and are challenged in life,” she starts.

“We face hurt whether intentionally or unintentionally. But it’s more for the forgiver than the forgiven. And while 
I can forgive, I can never forget the way that my children Antony, Angelina and Sienna passed away.

“But I focus on them and have control over my family and our choices, not anyone else’s. I can keep their legacy alive through the i4give foundation, being ambassadors for road safety and by speaking and sharing our story.”

Looking to the future, Leila and Danny are working on a book.

“Danny and I are taking things day by day,” she adds.

“I hope that people will take the initiative in forgiveness when they hear our story. The act of forgiveness and the love we show our children has an impact on generations to come.

“If we can forgive, we can make a difference in the world.”

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