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KILLIS, Turkey -- “First of all, she couldn’t move. I thought she was dead,” says Ibtesam, a Syrian refugee here on the Turkish border, of her 14 year-old daughter Aya. “Then she began moving her hands, her legs, opening her eyes. And I am feeling happy.”
Aya was seriously injured when a bomb fell on their Syrian home in mid-March. Her skull was broken and she lost her memory. But she survived, and each week her condition improves, and her memory returns.
“[Aya] can remember me and her father, and her brother,” she says, but she doesn’t recall anything about the bombing. “I told her what happened to our home, about the helicopter, the barrel bomb.”
Aya still does not know that her little sister Iman was killed in the same bombing that injured her.
“She is asking me about Iman,” says Ibtesam. “I start to cry in front of her. She says to me she misses her sister, every night she sees her in her dreams.
“My daughter [Iman] was very active, really smart. Every day when I wake up she would kiss me and give me a hug. I can’t believe she died.”
Doctors have advised Aya’s family to wait before telling her that her sister died because she is still so emotionally weak.
“It’s so difficult because you have your children to look after while you have your own pain and sadness,” says Ibtesam. “I always feel pain for what happened to us and what is happening to Syria.”
Ibtseam was a teacher in Syria and Aya’s father, Mohammed, a civil engineer. “We came here without passport, money or home,” Mohammed says. “We never thought this would happen to us... while the world watches and does nothing.”