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Priest who helped rebuild city devastated by ISIS: There will be no peace if we do not forgive

Fr. Georges Jahola returned to Iraq in 2016 and began working with refugees. 

Little by little, it became evident that ISIS was going to be defeated. As a result, they began preparing for Christians to return to the cities from which they were expelled. 

One example is Qaraqosh.

Committee for the reconstruction of Baghdeda-Qaraqosh
“Together with a group of volunteers and photographers, we documented the situation within the city. We went to around 7,000 houses, documenting everything, so it would be recorded for the future.”

The situation they found was terrible, both in the churches and in the houses. However, their work allowed families see the state of their homes. Afterward, many decided to return to give life to their homes once again. 

Committee for the reconstruction of Baghdeda-Qaraqosh
“We have seen Qaraqosh grow. First a few families, then tens, hundreds, and thousands of families returned within a few months.” “We saw right before our very eyes how stores were being opened every day. The city was coming back to life.”

Those who return have the challenge, not only to rebuild their homes, but also to reconcile with their neighbors. This is because many neighbors told ISIS militia which houses belonged to Christians. 

Committee for the reconstruction of Baghdeda-Qaraqosh
“We will continue life with our neighbors, but perhaps more carefully. We don't want to be reckless. We accept the other, cautiously.” “All of society must be reconciled. This is the central message of Christian doctrine, of our homilies: we want to live in peace. How can there be peace, if there is no forgiveness?”

This group has already rebuilt 35 percent of the houses and some churches. Out of the 50,000 inhabitants of this Christian city, only half have decided to return. The truth is that every family has been divided: not one entire family, with all its members, is in Qaraqosh.