Ten-year-old Helda Khalid Jacob Hindi, a fifth grader, is not at a loss for words. She is passionate about her life, her future and the future of her loved ones. Helda and her family—mom, dad and a younger brother—recently moved back to Qaraqosh on Iraq’s Nineveh Plains, after spending three years in exile in Kurdistan. She remembers vividly the night of August 6, 2014, when ISIS overran her town and Christian families had to flee overnight.
She says: “Alarm bells rang out in our streets—we had to escape the living hell of violence and terrorism. I went along, crying, with no hope of ever returning to my town, my school; with no hope of ever seeing my friends again. We had no idea how long we would be displaced from our beloved city. The days passed and we lived in torment and tragedy until we got used to it.”
Eventually, a new school was built for displaced children and Helda and her family began a new life. She remembers: “I was sad, clinging to hope of returning to my old school; but I made new friends. And today, by God’s grace, we have returned to our town and I am back in my old school among my old friends.”
Life in exile has been hard, perhaps particularly for a proud girl like Helda, who says: “We felt humiliated when we were receiving humanitarian aid, because we didn’t think that the day would come when we would become like beggars, oppressed people, with no power or strength.
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