“Pope Francis has given us back our hope, he has given us everything”

This is how the life of one Syrian family has changed since the pope brought them back to Rome with him after visiting Lesbos.

This family has begun a new life in Italy. They are far from their beloved Damascus and the rest of their family, but also far from the horrors of war, sadness and uncertainty.

This new beginning started April 16, 2016, the day Pope Francis took them out of a refugee camp in Lesbos and rescued them from despair.

WAFAA KAWKJI
“Coming out of the refugee camp saved us because there were too many people in that place. There were many desperate families, and at that time, the future was uncertain for everyone.”

Only 12 hours before boarding this plane, they were told that would be travelling to Italy. For this family, their nightmare began in 2015, when they had to leave their country of Syria. After passing through Lebanon, they arrived in Turkey. From there, in a cramped ship, they reached Greece by sea, a journey that Wafaa is still unable to describe in words.

After a month in Greece, the pope unexpectedly gave them one of the best news of their lives.

WAFAA KAWAKJI
“First of all it surprised us a lot. It was like a dream. With all that we went through in Syria, receiving this news made us feel very fortunate.”

OSAMA KAWAKJI
“Pope Francis represents for us charity, and certainty. I cannot express it in more words… He has given us everything.”

These few photos remind them of the normality of life in a Syria full of Christians and Muslims coexisting. Syria was a country where no one asked others about their faith. Osama worked in a printing press and Wafaa was a hairdresser. They lost everything in the war, including their home. However, they still had their lives and were able to seek refuge far from their unlivable country.

That’s why they thank Pope Francis for showing the world that countries cannot close their doors those who need it most.

OSAMA KAWAKJI
“Pope Francis has given us back our hope. He has paved the way for European countries to open their doors to people like us. It hurts me when I see countries closing their borders, because we are fleeing war. We live in a state of misery. People don’t know where to go and when countries close the door in their faces, that leads to despair.”

It is a desperation that they no longer feel, because now they can imagine a peaceful future for thier children, Omar and Masa.