MARCONIA KORKIS is a 16-year-old girl from Aleppo. As is true for many teenagers in Syria’s second-largest city, talking to Marconia is like talking to an adult; suffering, her own and that of others, have made her wise beyond her years. Marconia, who is Chaldean, has a unique story to tell:
“On September 28, 2016, I came home from school as usual, but I had a strange feeling that I would be hurt; the security situation in Aleppo was bad. I called my mom and told her I wanted to get out of the house, because I was afraid something would happen. But my mother said, ‘nothing is going to happen—stay home.’
I was sitting with my brother and I was very scared; I grabbed an apple and cut it into half and told him that I felt that this apple would be the last thing we would eat together. He said: “Imagine that a missile is breaking into our house without permission.” That very moment I went out to the balcony and suddenly I saw nothing, everything was black around me; I cried out: “God where am I?”
“Then I saw a white spot shining, and I felt that I had taken a new soul. I woke up hearing my brother saying: ‘don’t look to at yourself, stand up let’s go to the hospital.’ I said: ‘How can I? I don’t feel any parts of my body.’ None of the neighbors helped me because they were petrified. I looked at my hand, and blood was flowing. I kept on screaming until a stranger came up to the apartment to help.
When I got to the hospital I was covered with blood. My mother told me that all the doctors said they had to amputate my hand because I had lost too much blood; and all the equipment had been ready to proceed. But the surgeon said: ‘Wait a second.’ He began sewing up my hand’s arteries very quickly, and the bleeding stopped miraculously—a pulse returned to my hand.
“There were more than 50 pieces of shrapnel in my body—few of them are there still. When I woke up again, I could not move at all; my whole body encased in protective plates. Two weeks later I was allowed to go home. Less than four months later, X rays were taken and the doctors were in shock: most of the broken bones had healed.
“One doctor said: ‘this is illogical …it’s is a miracle; this is the first case like this I’ve seen; normally, such injuries need at least two years to heal.’
“After my condition improved some more, I began physical therapy so that I could walk again. One day, working with my physical therapist, I told him I wanted to walk; he said that it would be difficult, but I insisted on trying and I walked! My parents were in tears.
“Divine care did not leave me for a moment; I felt the presence of the Lord at every moment; without him, I would not be alive now; I was reading the Bible every day, and I believe that God was present with me in his living word by putting many people on my path who helped me a lot. My relationship with God and my daily prayers were the reason I found comfort throughout my ordeal.
“Today, I feel safe only in terms of security, but I don’t feel safe among my peers, who have not all been kind when they see the scars left by the shrapnel and the deformity of my body. I was at a swimming pool once, when one of my school friends told me, laughing: ‘your body is not beautiful at all.’ That made me cry a lot. Sure, I don’t mean to say that everybody looks at me that way, but those few who do make feel embarrassed about my body; it makes me sad and it doesn’t help me accept those scars.
“I want to emigrate because we are not safe because of the unknown future we face. I dream of living a normal life, safely, without wars; I am tired of the pain caused by war. We need to love and understand each other; I say to all Christians in the West that we are tired of everything here, and that we need a lot of help.
“We have lost many precious lives in this ugly war. I ask everyone who can make a difference in Syria to help us to get safety and peace. This is the dream of every Syrian now—to live in peace and return to how we used to live before.”
Jony Azar writes for Aid to the Church in Need, an international papal charity, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)