Born in Hama, Syria.
Living in the Athens.
With the war raging around them, there was so little food that people were starving. Like the structures around them, any semblance of community or society had collapsed.
Just a few years ago, Hiat had a husband, a home and a future. Today, she is in her thirties, a mother of six – and a widow. Her late husband is one of tens of thousands of civilian casualties of the 5-year old civil war in Syria.
Before the war, Hiat lived with her family in the Syrian town of Hama. Her family lived a quiet, middle-class life. Muhammad, her oldest child, went to school, did his homework, and played tennis and soccer.
But things for Hiat and her family began to fall apart when the war started. The city of Hama is north of the city Homs, where some of the most intense and brutal fighting has taken place. Following the death of her husband, Hiat decided to leave Syria. With the war raging around them, there was so little food that people were starving. Like the structures around them, any semblance of community or society had collapsed.
Traveling to Europe without a male companion is not only difficult for a woman, it is dangerous. Smugglers are known to take vast sums of money from refugees for transportation when a cheap bus ticket would suffice. Hiat fears that some of her children might not survive the hazardous journey that many Syrians make to ultimately reach safe havens in Germany or Sweden.
With the help of CRS and Caritas, Hiat and her children have a warm room in Athens in a hotel that has been turned into a temporary refugee center housing hundreds of people. The family receives two meals a day. Caritas also provides counseling and assistance to help people like Hiat plan their next steps.
She’s a beautiful woman with a wonderful smile but seems exhausted and fearful. Even with humanitarian support, Hiat has a tough road ahead. She doesn’t understand why her family has to go through so much turmoil and believes that the United States could stop the war, “if they would try.”
Like mothers everywhere, her greatest worries are for her children. “My children have not lived at all. They have done nothing wrong. Why should they die?”