Although militant fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group have already left some parts of Iraq, Christians from the Middle Eastern country still consider returning to their homes as a faraway dream.
Maha al Kahwaji, a Christian woman from Karamlesh village in northern Iraq, for instance, spoke eagerly of her home town during one of the meetings among Christians in the city of Erbil, located 40 miles away.
Maha admitted though that she is not keeping her hopes up about returning home, especially in the current state that Karamlesh village is in after it was seized by the ISIS over a year ago.
"I adore my village. I adore it... But to return is difficult," she told the National Public Radio. "It's not just difficult, with the tunnels, the burning of homes and the destruction. It's impossible."
The experiences of others who tried to return to Karamlesh village are discouraging Maha. She has observed that most of those who attempted to go back only ended up resettling in other places.
Taher Bahoo, a businessman from Karamlesh village, witnessed the destruction brought by the ISIS to his homeland when he recently visited the place. He dropped by his family house, and could not hide his sadness with what he saw.
"All my life I was here," he murmured, as he looked around the house that has been ransacked. He also said that he does not want his parents to see what has become of their home. He plans to clean and repair everything to make it more livable.
Bahoo also reminisced the time when he and his family were able to live in peace in Karamlesh. He is still hopeful that they will be able to return there one day.
"When I was just 5, 6, 7 years age, we were playing here... It was peaceful. It's difficult – very difficult – to imagine what happened here... Looks like, I don't know – another place," he said.