“Wake up! Wake up!”
Fifteen-year-old Francois Jacob was jolted awake by his mother’s urgent voice. It was a hot September night in 2012, and a war plane had just dropped a bomb near their home in Aleppo, Syria.
The sound of gunfire echoed through the apartment where Francois lived with his parents and younger brother, Cedric. A fierce battle was raging in the streets below. And now they were trapped.
Hours passed. Darkness gave way to early morning light. Still, the battle showed no signs of ending. By 2 p.m., it had become clear that the family needed to leave.
They headed down to the street, which was pocked with bullet holes—only to find that their escape route would put them in full view of armed fighters.
“We didn’t have time to think,” Francois says. “We just ran.”