August 10, 2017

Positivity: After years of exile, Dominican sisters return to Iraq’s Nineveh Plain

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 11:55 am

From Erbil, Iraq:

Aug 9, 2017 / 04:32 pm

After three years in exile from Iraq’s Nineveh Plain while it was occupied by the Islamic State, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena are returning to their homeland to face the daunting challenge of rebuilding their destroyed communities.

“Three years ago, we left our homes at night to the unknown. We started a journey of displacement, exile and questioning,” stated an Aug. 6 open letter from the Dominican Sisters in Erbil.

“Despite everything, we always dreamed of going back and finding our houses safe and sound, just as we left them. We strongly wished that we would return and kindle our candles for prayers, harvest our grapes, and read our books,” the letter continued.

In 2014, the Nineveh Plain was overtaken by the Islamic State, forcing tens of thousands into exile and displacement. The Nineveh Plain territory lies between the city of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, and Iraqi Kurdistan.

In the fall of 2016, two years after the Islamic State claimed the Nineveh territory, Iraqi forces made significant military gains and liberated the Nineveh Plain. Many scattered families were able to return to their towns with hope for the future.

“God showered us with His graces as our towns were liberated, one after the other; ISIS was defeated and the Plain of Nineveh seems to have been liberated,” the Dominican Sisters wrote.

While the territory is now seemingly safe from Islamic State forces, the Sisters said that it “does not mean that the Plain of Nineveh is entirely cleansed from that mentality.”

Upon returning to their homes, many found graffiti on the walls in their towns that read “we’re going to break your crosses,” and “you have no place with us.” Some churches were found to have battle instructions etched on the walls, with piles of deadly chemicals in the corners.

In addition, the physical damage left behind is overwhelming. Upwards of 6,000 homes are in need of repair or complete rebuilding just in the city of Bakhdida, also known as Qaraqosh. The families who still have standing houses are few and far between. …

Go here for the rest of the story.


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