Testimony of Anna Jabbour, Syrian refugee, at the audience with Pope Francis

I am Anna, I am from Aleppo, I am a Christian. 

I often think of my city, it was beautiful. My husband Subhi and I did not want to leave it, we resisted until 2016. We had our quiet life there: family, work, friends, the parish, our dreams were there.  We hoped the war would end instead it was getting worse by the day. Every time we left home, we did not know if we would come back. We saw neighbours and friends die, the bombs were falling like rain, everyone was screaming, there were sirens, dead, wounded, destruction everywhere, it was a nightmare. Our baby Pamela had just been born, she was one month old, and to save her we decided to leave everything and go. 

We went to Lebanon but even there the situation got worse. Then came the port explosion on 4 August 2020. Beirut was half destroyed, we were once again homeless. We could no longer live in Lebanon either. 

We started looking for a solution. We heard about the Humanitarian Corridors, it sounded like a dream: the chance to live in peace, to work and engage in society, the chance for Pamela to live a 'normal' life.

When we had our first interview, we could finally see some light, hope rekindled. We arrived in Italy a few days before Christmas 2020, it was really Christmas for us, a new birth for us. Four years had already passed...

Everything was different since our arrival. People smiled at us, they welcomed us with flowers, they were concerned about us. In the following months we started to discover Rome and Italy, to learn the language, my daughter started school straight away. We never felt alone, our friends from the Community took us by the hand and taught us how to walk. They do the most beautiful thing in the world: they give hope, something essential for those who have lived in the darkness of war.

Today we are happy, my husband works in a cleaning company and I work with an elderly lady, we live close to her. Pamela is happy to study and have friends from school. We thought we should give back the gift we received and so we got involved.

A month ago, the earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey threw us into anguish again, I thought of the people in Aleppo who had already suffered so much, we wonder why? Why all this evil? Some of my friends here have lost family members, many people are living on the streets and have lost the very little they had. I pray and would like to help and give them hope. 

Your Holiness, I thank you because you love migrants, you pray and work for peace. In Syria we all know that you have not forgotten us and that you love us.