On the morning of June 6, 2014, I woke up to yet another normal day with my kids. My husband had already left for work and I needed to help the children get dressed, organise their breakfast and take them to school. When I returned from dropping my kids off at school, I sat down with my little one, played with her and then went through my daily routine. Checked some e-mails and read a couple of local articles.
I scrolled through social media – pictures of birthdays, marriages, food … and then without a warning, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My heart sank. Some of my friends had posted something completely different. Mosul in Iraq had been invaded. Thousands of my people, fleeing in panic. Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs had once again been hit by evil, in a country already so torn. I couldn’t contain my anger. Drowning in my emotions,I began to weep.
Within what seemed like minutes, 500,000 of Mosul’s citizens were sent running for their lives from an extremist group.
I started to talk to myself. What am I going to do? Is there anything I can do? Who can I talk to? I continued searching on social media to find as much information as I could. I began sharing articles, sending messages to people I didn’t know, asking for more information, then sharing that information. I stopped and wondered, how could this have happened? When will it stop? What was happening to all the innocent people who were trapped in a war they weren’t involved in?
My heart shattered into a million pieces. My life was totally changed. I tried to not let it affect my family but it was impossible. I couldn’t sleep anymore and I cried often. I couldn’t think. I juggled between being a wife and a mom. I had to make it work. I couldn’t give up. But as days and weeks started to pass by, the situation became worse. Millions of men, women and children displaced, killed or missing.
All the pain and anguish that I felt in June was repeated when the brutal terrorist group ISIS attacked the Nineveh Plain. 150,000 Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs were displaced, fleeing for their lives, again. What made things worse was that some of the newly displaced had originally fled Mosul and before that from somewhere else and. … It never ends.
Being a mom I found myself identifying with other mothers. I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to go through this tragedy having small kids. As images and stories circulated through social media, I came across a story of a little girl named Christina Khader Abada..
On August 6, 2014 the town of Qaraqosh was overtaken by Islamic State (IS), where Christina and her family lived. Khader Abada, her father is blind and Ayda Abada, her mother is ill. Christina has 4 other siblings. They escaped Qaraqosh, but their sister, mother and father were left behind.
On August 22, the family was taken by the terrorists for what was said to be a medical check-up, along with other Christians. They soon found out that the medical check-up was a lie and that they were being rounded up to be robbed of their belongings and deported from Qaraqosh. They had all stayed in Qaraqosh due to similar reasons as the Abada’s; because of old age, disabilities and other limitations.
The Abadas and the other Christians were commanded to board a bus, the windows of which were covered with dirt to prevent them from seeing out. Ayda held Christina, close to her as their captors were walking up and down the bus. Someone named “Fadel” boarded the bus, approached Ayda and took Christina out of her mother’s arms. Christina cried for her mom and her mom cried for her. He took her inside the building. The bus remained parked for a while as “Fadel” passed in and out of the building, without Christina.
Finally, a man appearing to be the ring leader, someone who was referred to as “the prince”, emerged with Christina in his arms. As Christina continued to cry for her mother, Ayda, ran to exit the bus in an effort to get her daughter back. She continued to cry and plead for her little girl but “the prince” wasn’t the least bit sympathetic. He did not speak to Ayda, but simply gave her a look of disdain. The IS militants put a gun to her head and asked her to get on the bus or she and the rest of her family would be killed. She had no choice. The man was holding Christina walked away with her little girl and that was the last time she saw her.
Christina was only 3 years old but always helped guide her blind father.
Today is Christina’s birthday. She turns 4. A child’s birthday is supposed to be a celebration of their “special day”. A birthday cake, some gifts to open, music playing, running around in the grass, surrounded by family and friends taking pictures. A memory to never forget.
In the one year anniversary of Christina’s kidnapping, I read somewhere that her mother Ayda Abada, asked:
“Please tell everyone to pray for Christina and for us, as we are living in the hope that someday Christina will come back.”
As a parent, I can only say hold your children tight, tell them you love them and think about them every day. Make sure they never forget how important they are and what they mean to you because you never know when a loved one’s life can be taken from you.
A Demand For Action