I had four brothers and seven sisters. I was in school. I enjoyed it. My sisters were there with me, my cousins- all of my family. Life was good.
It was at 3 am when we woke to the sound of gunshots and airplanes overhead. We went to the roof, but we didn’t see anyone. Everyone had already fled. As we left home, we saw bodies on the roads – so many people had been shot. I remember seeing old men and women who were left behind because there was no room in the cars. It was hard to see what was happening.
As we fled, our car ran out of gas, then my brother got sick. We were without food or water. After my dad was able to get gas for the car, we continued to get out of the mountains. We saw ISIS on the road behind us. They stopped the other cars and took all the women and they lined up all the men. They took one man and cut his head off in front of us. I was so scared that they were going to capture us next. My dad saw that ISIS was busy with other cars, so we had time to drive away.
ISIS began shooting at us, but my dad didn’t stop. As we drove we could see bodies and heads of people from when ISIS stopped people before us and shot and killed them.
Then, our car broke, so we started walking. My dad knew the way up a mountain following the road. When we got to the top, we hid behind a rock still hearing the sounds of gunshots and shouting and everything that was going on behind us.
When night came, we continued to walk using some lighters we had to guide us. We walked for 24 hours.
My grandfather was with us and he is old and could not walk fast like us, so we walked slowly. I was so tired. Finally, there was a car that came, they picked all of us up and brought us to Khanke.
I was afraid ISIS would come to Khanke. All of my thoughts were about what happened there and how bad it was. Because of everything I had seen with my eyes, I thought they would come here too. I kept thinking about what happened to the old men and women who were left behind that we passed as we left home. I kept remembering everything that I saw. It was so hard to live a normal life again. It was so hard to live with those feelings.
Before coming to GROW I always had bad thoughts. I would keep thinking about what happened to me and what I saw. I thought it would be hard to have my life back to go back to school again.
But the GROW program was so good. I learned a lot of things, good things like believing in God. Many things were beneficial in my life. I like the stories so much and I always want to come to listen. The women from Tutapona are like my older sisters- I always want to come see them.
After going through the program I realized I was not thinking in a positive way. Now, I’m thinking in a positive way. I’m much better than before. I want to finish school and go to college and have a future. I’m believing in God that good things will happen to me. I want to work hard on myself to do something. Now I’m thinking that someday I will go to see my mom and dad and maybe we will have a future.
I am healed.
*Name & images may have been changed to protect the individual.
Because of the generosity of others, Hana is now a light in her family and her community. BUT there are thousands of people just like Hana with stories that are yet to end with hope. Help Tutapona bring hope & healing by donating to the #40ThousandLights campaign & help us bring light to 40 Thousand more lives, homes & communities.