My name is Nadia. I am a Presbyterian young lady from Homs.
I have a story to share with you. A story of a harsh transition from a life that lacked nothing to a life where we lack everything.
I want to share with you about a life that was stolen, about the dreams that were killed, about our damaged houses, minds, and lives… Yet about the hope that is planted inside every one of us… That shines surprisingly… When we think that we have lost it.
I remember my city, the glamour it had, four years ago. I can still hear the bells of the seven churches – that are broken and silent now. They used to ring together, proclaiming the birth of Jesus, singing Halleluiah on Palm Sunday and rejoicing on the resurrection day. The services of the seven churches were scheduled on different times, so to enable the Christians in Homs to attend all of them on the same day. I used to sing with the choir in my church. Then many of my Presbyterian fellows used to come to see me and my brother singing with the choir of the Greek Orthodox Church, then after it with Syriac Orthodox church. My Heart aches badly when I remember that we lost these moments…
Even though we still live in the same city… But it is not anymore the same. It lost all the signs of civilization. Life, love and safety were Homs’ pillars. Today the city is lost in sadness and sorrow…
These four years were very bad!! I wish I can delete them from my memory. These years has witnessed the death of our friends, our relatives and neighbors.
One night, we were woken up by the screams of people who were shouting and hitting some metal dishes. A group of men and women from different ages along with their kids were walking the street and shouting “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!”
We were terrified… We thought it is the end. I can never forget these screaming voices and how loud and heavy they fell on my hearts. After that night, we stopped going to our schools. We imagined so many bad things. We were not sure what these radical groups can do… what are they capable of?
Many days later, we were all growing stronger and we decided to go back to our normal life. It was so great when I went to the school and met all my friends there and realized that we are all alive. But it did not last so long, many armed groups or those who called themselves “rebels” surrounded us from everywhere. Many families left the neighborhood. Only five families stayed, and we were among them. We were very cautious and alerted all the day long.
My Parents kept repeating the same words all the time: “if we are attacked, you hide! You and your brother should disappear immediately. So we face the rebels alone”. How can I do that? How can I give up on them? I prayed that I never experience such a thing…
My father and the men of the other four families went daily to bring some food so we survive. These were the hardest moment at all, waiting for them to get back safe. We spent many days in the corridor of our house. Days were becoming very dark.
One day, when I was in my house with my family, I looked around and I was shocked to see all that dust and to hear the noise everywhere. Chaos became like a beast eating my house, everything was flying and burning around me.
I started screaming unconsciously. Maybe a rocket fell down on our house or very close to us. I screamed nonstop, one of my family was injured. Another rocket fell down, I was about to lose my conscious. In the midst of the dust and the smell of death, I saw my father pulling me out of this with my mother and my brother, we ran down quickly to the basement, our neighbors joined us there. We stayed there for two days. When we felt that the situation is calmer, we moved to the house of my grandmother, it was very close to us. At that day. We made the hardest decision which is to leave our home. We had no other choice after all what happened.
What can we do now? Should we stop breathing? Should we live in despair and regret? Should we flee from our reality? None of them was our option.
Now we live again in Homs, not in the same neighborhood, but very close to it. My parents are working hard to renovate our house so we can move back soon. Our neighborhood is so destroyed, but we feel that it is our duty to turn back to our house and encourage our neighbors to do the same.
This year, I graduated from my college. I finished my bachelor degree in Computer Science. I am proud of this achievement. It did happen in the middle of the craziest period of my life. Yet, it showed that we did not give up, we did not lose our hope to the terror. We will never do because we are still alive!
As long as we have the gift of “life” from God, we will have the power to live and move on.
With the help of the Almighty, we will go back to our life, and will experience the joy of his presence. I pray that God will put his joy and peace in the heart of every person in my lovely exhausted Homs.
 The formal words that the Muslims usually say in their worship in the mosques.