Labib Rammo, along with his wife and children, left Ankawa's exile to return home. After three years, "we really feel we are in the right place." Hope to find coexistence with Muslims; Reconstruction a "duty"; Sufferings have "strengthened our faith".
Karamles (AsiaNews) - Returning home and to normal life, "is like throwing off, leaving behind a burden that we had been carrying fr too long." Now, for the first time after three years, "we really feel we are in the right place." This is what Labib Rammo, a Christian of the Nineveh plain, tells AsiaNews. His family is the first (and only one) to return to Karamles since the beginning of reconstruction.
He, like hundreds of thousands of Christians, left his house and land in the summer of 2014 following the rise of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis). Three years on, the jihadist threat seems to be behind them, but the return to normality still has many challenges and obstacles.
AsiaNews met this family with the help of Don Paul Thabit Mekko, a Chaldean Priests in Mosul, on the front row line in the reconstruction work that began in recent months. As Raphael Louis Sako, Patriarch of the Iraqi Church, has stressed the need to erase jihadist ideology and to revive a path of coexistence between Christians and Muslims is one of the priorities for a united and peaceful country. This is a "long and tiring" road warns the Chaldean primate, which is based on a "new awareness" to ward off "further decline, division and fragmentation of the past."
This "hope" is also cultivated and shared by Labib Rammo and his relatives who say they expect "the best" now that Daesh militants [Arabic acronym for IS] have fled. However, he adds, "the issue of security is an essential point to solve," and is the basis from which to "help Karamles and the whole Nineveh plain on its refounding path."
Labib, 55, is married to Nedal Yousif, nine years younger. The couple has six children: Taher born in 1993; Maher (1994); Myron (1995); Marsen (1996); Firas (2002); Barbara (2003). The last to have arrived in the family is Merna Rammo, born March 19 this year. The little one will be baptized next August 6 in the parish church of Karamles, three years exactly from the night when the family fled the town and the plain in front of the advance of the Isis.
In the years of exile, the family lived in Ankawa, the Christian quarter of Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. In the past they managed a mini-market, besides cultivating some family gardens and doing their own work. During exile, Don Paul said, they received some small funding and donations from the Church, although "most of the expenses and rent they were able to pay with money from their work." In Ankawa, in fact, they had started a small activity dedicated to the sale of fruit and vegetables.
"The time of exile - says Labib Rammo - was difficult, without a home, with broken affections and ties, a part of the family distant. Our routines and customs were upset, all this has created difficulties and made us feel like foreigners in our land. " At this time "we have cultivated a vegetable garden" and now that "we have found our home we want to add a room" so that "our young children are growing up and are now have marriages of their own."
When asked about a possible new coexistence between Christians and Muslims, his answer is straight: "Let's hope," says the man, "anyway, we live in a Muslim-majority country, and that is to say that we are still living with them." Certainly the sufferings have strengthened the Christian faith, which remains firm "in any situation: we have lost homes and property, but our faith has remained."
His last thought is for the reconstruction, which remains "a duty" and he invites all fellow citizens, to "return to the village of origin, this is important." "We have to feel that this is our land and this is the place to witness the Christian faith today more ever. And to do so we know that we can count on the goodwill and generosity of our Christian brothers all over the world. "(DS)