Escaping bullets and bombs in Syria

As Syria refugees pour into Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, Caritas is giving them food, medical care, and emergency aid. Ilham, a mother of five, described a harrowing day in her home city to Caritas Communications Officer Laura Sheahen.

Ilham was shot in the leg after a sniper killed her neighbour as he returned bringing milk for her children. She later fled Syria with her children. Photo: Laura Sheahen/Caritas

I have nothing to do with the military, I am a civilian. We’re from Bab Amr, in Homs.

One day I wanted to go get milk. My neighbour Adnan said, “Don’t go, I’ll bring you milk. I’m afraid you’ll be killed.” The snipers shoot from a long distance. We don’t see the shooter, but he sees us.

It was about 2 pm and Adnan was bringing the milk to me, two containers. A shooter was up in a building in a small window.

He was shot. The bullet went through his arm to his heart.

I went out to try to save Adnan. The person who shot him also shot me, to prevent me from reaching him. The bullet went through my left thigh. I was lucky it didn’t hit the bone.

Some people came to help. I said, “Go to him first, he’s bleeding so much.” But the medical services are bad, no one could save him.

I hopped to other neighbours and they tied a bandage around my leg.

I kept hoping things would improve. But my house was bombarded three times. I slept in my clothes and headscarf because I was afraid we’d have to run out at night, or someone would come in.

We left for Damascus, but then bombardments began there. I thought, “It’s becoming too bad.” I was afraid my children would be killed. I realized we had to leave.

Now we live here in Jordan.

Ilham speaks with Caritas Jordan staff in the doctor’s office of a Caritas center. Photo: Laura Sheahen/Caritas

I have epilepsy, and so do three of my children. My daughter has seizures twice a day. She foams at the mouth and her whole body becomes stiff.

Here in Jordan, my neighbours told me about Caritas. I am going to talk to the Caritas doctor about epilepsy medicine. If this doctor wasn’t here, I don’t know what I’d do.

I didn’t want to leave my country, but I was afraid for my kids.

Adnan had five children. We were neighbours, and like family. May he rest in peace.

Caritas is helping thousands of refugees like Ilham. Read more about the crisis and consider donating.

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