IRAQ — Farah was just one of around 70,000 Christians who fled to Erbil to escape the advancement of so-called Islamic State in 2014. When she returned, Open Doors partners helped her to restore her home and business in Nineveh Plains.
Farah can well recall the day in 2014 when her family fled their home as Islamic State overran Iraq’s Nineveh plains.
I remember that in the morning, it was around 6am, there were gunshots and sounds like bombing or something. When we left, my son was two and a half years old. Our fear was what the future held for this child. We thought that we were going to leave for a day or two and then come back to the area. But the situation got worse. ISIS took over our town and we couldn’t return.
Farah was just one of around 70,000 Christians who fled to Erbil to escape the advancement of ISIS. Returning home in 2017, she was met with scenes of destruction that the extremists had left behind.
As soon as we could return to our town, there was an eagerness, an eagerness to return to your homeland, to remember the streets, to remember specific things. But the memories clashed with the reality of a wrecked place. They clashed with the reality of a burned place. So it was a thrill mixed with heartache when we realized what our town used to be and what it had become. When I arrived home, I found it looted and there was nothing left. The house was in a terrible, filthy state. They destroyed it. There were a lot of slogans written on the walls about ISIS, but they were painted over afterwards and erased.
Our local partners helped to restore over 2,200 houses in the region where Farah lives. And they provided Farah with a micro-lane to help restart her salon business, which had been vandalized and looted.
At first when I reopened the salon I felt good, but afraid at the same time. For I started again from scratch. I opened the salon not knowing if it would work out or not. But thank God, I reached a stage where I was working alone, then I had to bring someone in to help me, as a manicurist and pedicurist. And then the work evolved, so I hired someone to help with hair and makeup.
Thanks to schemes like this, Iraqi Christians are encouraged to stay in the country.
Despite the fact that it was destroyed, this land remained beautiful in our eyes.We return to prove that we will remain here, and we will stay in our territory. We will rebuild and move forward, God willing.
About Open Doors UK
For over 60 years, Open Doors UK has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.
Source: Global News Alliance, Farah’s Return to the Nineveh Plains