“I remember the sweet moments in my city when the snow was falling just before Christmas 2013. Looking out through my window our children, with their new hats and gloves, playing excitedly in the snow.
In wasn’t long after that, as the children were getting ready for school that everything changed. The phone rang and a friend warned us not to leave the house as “Daesh” were in the streets nearby. Within minutes they were at our house, shouting and pushing us into the basement. Trembling with fear we were hidden away for two days. This time through the window I saw horrific scenes, of men dressed in black, their faces covered, wielding large knives showing no mercy to those they executed.
On the third day we were forced out into the snow wearing only our flip flops and pyjamas. We had no idea where to go, our home was ransacked, and we just walked for miles with no clear direction. I remembered that our neighbours had already fled to another area so we headed there for shelter. Yet again we were greeted with the same scenes of merciless killing in the streets.
Together with 30 others we were able to stay in their house but subjected to regular searches by “Deash” coming in every day and in the middle of the night. Not knowing what they were looking for or who they might take, we were in a constant state of fear, especially for our boys as they had taken others with them.
We ran out of food and hadn’t showered for days so we decided to leave, even if we were killed on the way, we couldn’t stay there any longer. Leaving by the back way to avoid the check points we had to walk through streets stained with blood that had become the snow-filled gravesites of many. Walking through the desert road in deep snow, my four children without their hats and gloves and never wanting to play in the snow again.
After miles of walking, tired and hungry, cold and afraid, we arrived into Damascus. It was there we received a welcome greeting from a lady from the church giving us food and clothes that we needed. Every month now we receive a ‘bag of blessing’ and trauma counselling funded through GAiN. I don’t know why God kept us safe, but I do know that I am very grateful every day that I am alive and for all those who support us. My family and I now serve with others to help in distributing the food bags, blankets and clothes as well as meeting with other women to pray at the church.
I know we are not safe in Damascus, only yesterday there were bombings one mile away from us. But I have peace in my heart as I am surrounded by so much love. Thank you for coming here thank you for listening to us, somehow the pain and the fear is less knowing that we are not forgotten.
*names have been changed for security