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News / Thoughts

Iraq: Back home after 3 years

November 6, 2017

When Christina* was just three years old, she was snatched from the arms of her mother by Islamic State militants as her family fled Qaraqosh. But this year, after being cared for by a Muslim family in Mosul for three years, she was reunited with her family in June. One of our local partners was recently able to visit Christina and her family – she gave us this update.

I was able to visit the family together with a Christian nun. During the visit Christina looked fine. She hurried to hug the nun who she clearly loves and to whom she is very much attached. She kept holding her hand during the whole visit and never wanted to leave her side. Christina’s father, Khidher Abada, and mother, Ayda Hanna (pictured), obviously looked happier and more comfortable than when their daughter was away from them.

Khidher told me, “We would like to return to Qaraqosh. I would like to go as my brothers have already returned. But my house is damaged. I would love to reconstruct it, but it’s totally damaged with some other houses next to it.”

Speak up for Christians in Iraq and Syria – sign the Hope for the Middle East petition

Ayda says something similar: “Living in the Ankawa area of Erbil is not the same as being in our own village. Maybe Christina will even remember when we are able to return.”

What worried me was that Christina did not speak during our visit. She was sitting next to the nun the whole time, hugging her tight. Later they started to make a necklace together. The nun and I tried to speak with her, but Christina was just smiling and nodding her head.

But when I asked her parents, they smile. “She is very talkative, but when guests come she is quiet. She speaks Arabic well as she was with a Muslim family in Mosul, but the last months she started to understand some of our Syriac language. That is the language we speak at home.”

I ask Ayda how Christina is doing now. “She remembers her time in Mosul, but she doesn’t want to go back to the family.”

Ayda told me, “I am so happy that she is with us again. I thank God for that and that she does remember us”.

“The first days after her arrival home she was kind of in shock.” Khidher adds, “It took about two weeks to get her used to here.” What makes them both very happy? “She calls us mom and dad.”

Christina will be registered at a school run by nuns in Ankawa, the Christian quarter of Erbil. Looking back on all that happened, Ayda says, “I thank the Lord because Christina is back. But I also thank all who helped us in prayer and practically.”

What you can do now…

Pray. Pray for Christina and her family to continue to be restored after their traumatic separation. Pray for provision for displaced families like theirs. Pray for energy and wisdom for Open Doors partners working to support believers in Iraq.

Give. Every £15 could go towards rebuilding a home or setting up a family in employment in Iraq. Give here…

Speak out. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition, calling for equality, dignity and responsibility for Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq. Ask others to sign it too. Sign now…

Join the Blackout. Spend a weekend offline. Give up your digital voice to stand with the voiceless. Raise money and prayer to amplify their silence. Find out more…

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