Their story only came to light recently after Patriarch Sako found one of the two women still alive. Camilla Haddad and Mary Fathohi Weber were taken in and protected by Elias Abu Ahmed, who gave them a home along with his two wives and 14 children. The 98-year-old says she feels good, even if sometimes her “legs hurt”.
Mosul – Two elderly Christian women were saved by a Muslim family who took them in and hid them during the dark and terrible years of Islamic State rule in Mosul and much of Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq.
The story of Camilla Haddad and Mary Fathohi Weber has only become public recently through the website of the Chaldean Patriarchate and the Patriarch himself, Card Louis Raphael Sako, who exchanged a few jokes with Camilla. Sadly, Mary passed away a few years ago from natural causes.
The two women went missing in the summer of 2014, when the Islamic State (IS) group, led by al-Baghdadi, seized Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq.
After that, their fate was surrounded by silence and mystery, until an answer was provided by Iraqi Christian leaders who never stopped looking for them.
Ms Haddad is now 98 years old but still in decent health. She lives with Elias Abu Ahmed, a Muslim man who hid her and her friend Mary, claiming that they were his grandmother and aunt when members of the Islamic State inspected his home.
He also took care of their health, as he does with his two wives and 14 children, treating them as family members. “I considered them as part of my family,” he said. “We are all brothers,” he repeated.
His action was an expression of charity and support among people of different faiths, feeding their desire to remain united and help each other even amid great difficulties.
One of the two women, Mary Fathohi Weber, died on 1 January 2015, but her friend Camilla Haddad – who has a room all to herself in the house and stays up until late – is still in good health, considering her advanced age.
Recently, she spoke on the phone with Patriarch Sako, who met her and her sisters Najeeba and Eileen many years ago, when he was still a priest in Mosul.
According to sources in the Patriarchate, during the conversation, the prelate introduced himself as “Abouna (Father in Arabic) Louis” to make it easier for Camilla to remember him since she is still unaware that he is now the patriarch of the Chaldean Church.
Card Sako remembers her and one of her sisters, who faithfully came to church and took part in the work of helping the poor.
When asked about her health, a spirited Camilla said: “Good, but my legs hurt”. Despite this, she turned down an offer to move to a health facility where she could receive more care, because she says she feels “connected” to the Muslim family that “took her in and protected her”. Instead, while grateful for the offer, she wants to “stay in Abu Ahmed’s house”.
Meanwhile, sources in the Chaldean patriarchate told AsiaNews that the Chaldean patriarch will soon meet with Camilla Haddad for a day of celebration.