Gabi Korajian, 18, lived with his parents, Joseph, and Hoda in Aleppo, Syria, suffering through some of the worst years of the country’s civil war. He had three brothers: George, Rimon, and John. A few years ago, when bombings had damaged their home, the family was forced to leave Aleppo for Damascus. Another disaster befell the Armenian Catholic family when they returned to Aleppo. Here Gabi tells his story to Aid to the Church in Need:
“I had been living happily until the crisis in Aleppo turned our lives upside down and scattered us around the world. I used to have many friends, but very few remained. In the wake of the deadly bombings that struck our neighborhood, I traveled to Damascus with my mother and my brothers. I believe that I survived these attacks because the angels were protecting me. We would have stayed in Aleppo had my father not taken the violence seriously; he secured a safe place for us and did not waste a moment.
“Unfortunately, I was unable to make friends in Damascus, which led me to believe that my friends back in Aleppo were irreplaceable. I felt as if I were in a different world: since the cost of living in Damascus was incredibly high, my father could not afford both living expenses and educational fees, so I attended a public school of 1,000 students, only six of whom were Christians. Despite these challenges, I managed to adapt to the norms and standards of the city.
“But as this was happening, my older brothers graduated from college and were presented with only two options: they had to either leave the country or serve in the military, and my father sold his shop so that they could live elsewhere. George pursued a post-graduate degree in Switzerland; Rimon served in the military, and John returned to Aleppo. ‘I can’t live without you,’ he told us.
“But John, like Rimon, eventually also joined the military, and he was killed in February of 2018. This loss changed our lives for the worse. Despite being physically alive, we were spiritually dead. The day we learned of his death was truly unforgettable. My parents used to call my brother every morning to make sure that he was all right, and, one day, two hours after speaking with John, they heard from one of his friends that he had died. My father immediately began to tremble, and my mother could not stop crying. I couldn’t believe it: I had lost my brother, whom I had always trusted and turned to in times of trouble.
“I was so young, but our circumstances made me feel very old. My family suffered enormously, and I could do nothing to help them. Since my brother’s death, we have all been praying for our safety.
“I am now studying in Damascus, and I hope to become one of the greatest surgeons in the world. I have always wanted to be a doctor and help keep people alive. I finished my first semester at the top of my class, so I believe that this is possible.
“I love my city of Aleppo, especially its churches, where you can see how badly our people have fought to lead good lives. And I continue to dream of Jesus, who encourages me to stay the course, no matter how great my challenges are.”
During the course of the civil war in Syria, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) aid reached at least 50,000 children and youth people. Currently, the ACN supports the education of more than 7,300 children and youth. In Aleppo, 5,550 families receive food aid.
Fawzy Basily writes for Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted in more than 140 countries.(USA); (UK); (AUS); (IRL); (CAN)