Resurrection of devastated Iraqi town of Karamles offers signs of hope

Noeh, 12 and Salina, 7, with their family in Karamles, IraqOpen Doors

Christian families are starting to return to the devastated Iraq town of Karamles, and weekly church services have started again.

Father Thabet is once more leading services as houses are being rebuilt. But with temperatures at 40C and no electricity for fans or air conditioning, it will be a long time before life in th town is back to what it was before IS invaded.

Karamles originally had 797 houses and of these, 464 have been burned from the inside, 97 have been completely destroyed by the bombs and the rest are damaged or vandalised, Open Doors reports.

Ten families have returned so far and more are expected soon as schools re-open for the new academic year next month.

Noeh (12) and his sister Salina (7) were among the first to return after spending three years in a refugee camp in Erbil. Because their house is in ruins, they are staying with their aunt. 

Noeh's mother Almas told Open Doors: 'It is like living in heaven. It is so good to be back on our own soil, in the place where we were born, where our parents and grandparents lived. We're so happy to be back living in Karamles most days of the week. We haven't moved our things yet from the camp in Erbil, but we stay in our village about five out of seven days.'

Father Thabet, a priest from Karamles, surveys its devastation by ISIS. Church services have now resumed.Open Doors

'It is especially hard because of the lack of electricity. There was a generator for our part of the village, but the generator was stolen. The lack of electricity is the reason that we haven't moved our things yet.' 

Nearby Qaraqosh, also ravaged by IS, has a working electricity supply and ships.  

Father Thabet told Open Doors: 'I see life is coming back to the village. A shop is open and each Sunday we have mass in the church. Many are planning to move back to Karamles, about 250 families have requested funds to rebuild their house. When school starts, I think more will return.'

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