Fatima cannot forget the sight of the blood covering her father's body nor her mother's groaning. Her mother had to leave her little brother Hamza because she was hit by a deadly bullet.
Even the night could not hide the horror of the bloody scene on the road between Duma and the safe corridor created by the Syrian Arab Army for civilians to cross from the terrorist-controlled areas in Eastern Ghouta to the points under its control. Ten-year old Fatima was unable to do anything. She held her brother Hamza's hand firmly and crawled in the orchards towards the nearest Syrian army checkpoint. Seeing the two children, one of the officers rushed to carry them to safety under the cover of friendly fire.
* The Dangerous Decision
Fatima tells Al-Ahed how her father made the dangerous decision to flee with the rest of the family to the safe area set up by the Syrian army for civilians to cross. The man knew that the armed groups in Douma would forcefully dissuade him from leaving as they did with many others who were shot and put in jail. He chose nightfall to be the zero hour to embark on the most dangerous task of his life. The man carried his daughter Fatima and his wife carried Hamzah and set off for freedom that was only a short walk through the orchards.
But the militants were able to spot him with his family and rained a barrage of bullets on them, punishing them for daring to flee. At this moment, Fatima had to grow up quickly and become the father, mother and sister to her little brother who was stunned at what he saw. As her mother groaned and her dying father repeated the Shahada, Fatima held her brother's hand and crawled between the orchards and under fire towards the nearest Syrian army checkpoint.
One of the soldiers was alerted to a suspicious movement before shouting: "They are two children. Cover me so I can get to them."
Thus, the night gave rise to two beautiful children trembling in fear and appealing to the army, whose soldiers and officers rushed to extend them a desperately needed lifeline and help them cross the line between slavery and freedom.
* The Mother of the Martyrs Embraces the Two Orphans
The Syrian army took Fatima and her brother Hamza to one of the shelters. Hamza appeared to be in shock. His sister Fatima was aware of this, so she hoped that we would not press him with questions. The scene of their parents' death had not left the two children who were crying continuously. A Syrian army soldier took on the responsibility of comforting them, petting them and buying them the chocolate they desired. Grandma Um Muhammad, then, appeared to take on the daunting task of relieving Fatima and Hamza. Um Muhammad is a lady hailing from Diyabiya in Eastern Ghouta. Her husband and three children were killed fighting alongside the Syrian Arab Army.
She told Al-Ahed website, "I embraced Fatima and Hamza. I took them to a room in the shelter and gave them new clothes after showering. Then I initiated conversation with them to avoid silence in order for them not to slip into painful memories."
Another lady from Douma waited for a long time at the safe corridor. She waited for her four married daughters, but to no avail. The embracing of Fatima and Hamza became her outlet for the longing that she felt for her daughters.
"I fear that a lot for my daughters are at home suffering from hunger in the first place. The terrorists are denying civilians food and only giving it to those who carry arms against the Syrian army," she said.
"I hope my daughters succeed in getting out but not in the way that Fatima and her brother Hamza survived," she added.
* All of Them Are Children With Woes
The shelter was full of children who made an effort to comfort Fatima and Hamza. Ahlam gets closer to Fatima, embraces her and holds her hands saying, "She is like my sister." Fatima smiles at this love but her eyes never stop chasing her brother Hamza, who was taken by the other children to distract him. We ask Fatima about the people's situation inside and if they wanted to get out. She immediately and without hesitation replies, "Yes, many before us tried to get out but were prevented by gunfire. There is injustice inside and hunger. Although the militants have a lot of food, yet they only give it to families whose children carry arms. They have raised the barricades to prevent people from going out and put some of them in prisons."
The distraught smiles that Fatima timidly gave us were soon interrupted by Hamza's cries, who was calling out to his mother. His sister Fatima rushes towards him, hugging him tightly and comforting him as much as she could. "Do not be sad my love, she is in heaven."
With tears shed for their parents, who were unjustly slain by the gunmen at the passage to freedom, Fatima holds her brother's hand leading him on to life's mysterious ways after she led him through the night on the journey of death.