On the Austria-Hungary Border -- Seven dark, cold nights. No hot food, no hot water. Caged like animals, sleeping on cell floors.
We last saw baby Fahed and his family on the Hungarian-Serbian border last Friday. We cheerily waved goodbye -- "See you on the other side!" -- they were halfway there!
We didn't see them on the other side. And didn't hear from them.
As the Hungarians came under fire for their treatment of refugees, we knew they -- parents Abu Uday and Batoul, and their children, Fahed, Hamudeh, Fatima and Tibeh -- were behind a fence. Somewhere.
We checked every camp in Hungary -- no access. We moved north to Austria, checked there. No sign of Fahed, Tibeh, Fatima or little Hamudeh.
And finally in Munich, just two days ago, after exhaustively checking the camps in town, a lovely Red Cross woman squeezed my shoulder: "You can't find them. They must find you." We watched the waves of people coming into Munich's train station. She was right.
We heard from their relatives in Syria -- their group had been split and half had made it to Germany. Abu-Uday and Batoul were stuck in a camp on the Hungarian border. Apparently they had resisted the fingerprinting process and they were without documents so were tossed behind bars with 10-month-old baby Fahed in tow.
This morning, we heard from them with an audio file and a picture of baby Fahed. "On a bus. ... See you soon!"
We found them on the train platform in Hungary. The kids tackled me to the ground -- all smiles but still in their little, lightweight summer t-shirts.
We rode the train, then walked some two miles -- a long two miles for little legs -- until arriving at the Austrian border. It was the first time in this journey I'd ever heard these kids complain.
They were tired, cold and mostly hungry. Abu-Uday told my colleague Terry Moran that he received one bread roll a day at the Hungarian facilities -- milk for baby Fahed was out of the question. And once when he asked for more, a policeman punched him across the face. Hard.
He shared videos from inside the camp showing horrific conditions. Every parent got a bracelet -- like one you might get for the county fair -- with the names and ages of their children.
They're now headed to Vienna, and onwards to Germany in the morning, if all goes according to plan. As they piled into the back of a big van, we got into ours -- speeding off down the same highway, but we were headed for a warm hotel. They were hoping for a family processing center at a hospital, or if that was full, the floor of the train station. But they're so close.