Maria, her husband and their two children, once lived in the Syrian province of Idlib. Coming from a modest background, her husband Fawzi worked all kinds of labor-intensive jobs to provide a decent life for his family, while Maria stayed at home to take care of their children Farah and William.
Shortly after the civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, neighboring towns and villages began to fall one after the other into the hands of extremist rebel factions. Soon afterwards, Maria’s hometown was besieged and life there became a nightmare. Food was scarce, and constant reports of brutal treatment of Christian villagers in the now occupied neighboring towns terrified everyone. But when Maria and Fawzi discovered that fighters from Al Qaida (Al Nosra Front) were about to storm their hometown, they decided to leave at all costs. With the help of smugglers, they succeeded in sneaking through the surrounding military blockade and travelled to the city of Aleppo.
Shortly after their arrival in the country’s largest city, Maria received the devastating news that her hometown had fallen into the hands of the terrorists. She also learned that the surviving Christians were violently abused and forced out of their homes. The local church and other religious monuments were desecrated or destroyed. Maria and Fawzi lost everything they once worked hard to acquire. Their home, car and personal belongings were all gone. Devastated for their loss, yet grateful that they are still alive, Maria and her family found themselves in financial difficulty. They were short on money and had only some clothes which they managed to bring with them.
But life in Aleppo proved to be extremely difficult for the Karo family. The raging war in city was so ferocious that it was referred to as the “Stalingrad of Syria.” Maria and her family spent most of the time hiding indoors from artillery bombardment and shelling which often began all of the sudden without any warning. Food shortages and lack of clean water made the situation worse for the civilian population. Staggering unemployment rates prevented Fawzi from finding any job and they soon ran out of money. The local church helped them with some food, but the conditions they lived in were dire.
Even when hostilities ended in Aleppo, the Karos were still living in unbearable conditions. They were forced to move to a village close to their hometown in Idlib where the war is still raging to this day. Lawlessness in the area they stayed in was so intolerable that civilians’ lives were at the mercy of militiamen. To make things worse, the Karos were receiving threats from radical factions just because of their Christian faith. Maria was on the verge of a breakdown, but luckily for her, one of her friends who was previously rescued by TNF informed her about the organization. Contact was established, and preparations were made to evacuate Maria and her family to out of the country.
Within weeks, the family was extracted and moved across highly dangerous areas occupied by different warring factions, into a secure area in Iraq. Finally, after suffering for so long, the Karos were living in safety and could breathe once again. Maria and her family are currently under the protection and care of TNF and are awaiting to be relocated oversees.