‘We just stayed at home and closed all the doors, and my neighbours told us, “Don’t come out, we will bring everything you need.” My neighbours were protecting our house until the last. The Muslim people have a special thing: they respect women who are widowed.’
Huda had to hide under a hijab to go to church. ‘We had no water or power, we were just hearing helicopters and gunshots.’ Her family packed small bags with documents and valuables and waited. When ISIS destroyed her church and kidnapped two of the girls in her congregation, she knew it was time to get out.
She was warned by the same neighbours to leave in the middle of the night for their safety. It led to a heart-stopping escape journey; their car broke down and they had to knock on the door of an acquaintance at 3am to ask for fuel.
When they finally reached the checkpoint and crossed into the safety of the Kurdish region, Huda tells me, ‘Behind our car there was a Muslim car, but they didn’t let them pass.’
OWAED AND MATAR’S STORY
Owaed and Matar are Muslim relatives who managed to make it through the checkpoint into the Kurdish region with their families.
Both live in unfinished houses patched up with plastic sheeting and plywood. They can’t get work to support themselves. Yet they are quick to express their deep gratitude to those giving them safety.
They fled in terror after ISIS knocked on their doors and rounded them up, along with their neighbours. ‘I saw them with my eyes,’ says Owaed’s wife Amsha. ‘They took small children and killed them.’
They arrived on foot, exhausted, to a village of Kurdish Christians. Owaed says the people there ‘gave us the courage to continue, to recover. They gave us water, clothes, and safety. They gave us this house.’