Firoz, Syria

In Syria our lives were full of happiness. All our relatives were together and we were in and out of each other’s homes. Our village was quiet [even though] it was full of people. Not a room was empty.

ISIS began invading our village on the first day of the revolution. They began killing people without mercy because we don’t share their religion. They were forcing a religion on us, calling it an Islamic state. They kept killing — they killed so many. They didn’t bury them; they threw them in pits. Syria was under siege and our whole lives are destroyed.

Anyone who smokes gets their hand cut off. If they see a woman’s face, they hit her. They take whoever is going or coming. They accuse you of being this or that and they take you away and before you know it, your body has been beaten up from how much they hit you. They take 14 and 15-year-olds and drag them into the army. It frightened me because I am 13.