Sister Ilham offers children a safe place near Mosul
“In 2016, around six thousand people had to leave Telleskuf. When I returned to this area, all the houses were abandoned and many of them were destroyed. In Telleskuf a lot of buildings have been reduced to rubble. The school and the children’s home have been obliterated, the doors of the convent were forced and the nuns’ residence was robbed.”
The Dominican Sisters started restoration of their convent in Telleskuf located 19 miles from Mosul, in May. “I worked from seven a.m. until seven p.m. to make the convent ready for the children.” This does not only refer to the place and equipment. It has also to do with the handling of emotions: “We have day-care for children who are three, four and five years old. From eight a.m. until one p.m. we host around one hundred and fifty children, aged six to twelve, and from five p.m. to seven p.m. we welcome the children who are twelve years old and older.
We also visit the people of the community at home and we give the children catechism: we prepare them for their first communion. Before the invasion of ISIS we worked in the convent with five sisters, but now there are just two of us. Luckily, we will receive backup soon.”
A safe place for the children
Instead of looking back, Sister Ilham now tries to look ahead: “I am glad to see people return to their houses and getting on with their lives,” says Sister Ilham smiling. “It is a shame that the government has barely restored the road – they should contribute more to the rebuilding of the villages and cities. However, our biggest concern is the safety in this area. Our first priority is the children. They have been changed by the control of ISIS: by the increase in fighting, I can tell that they have become more nervous and more aggressive.” There is still plenty of what is missing but as Sister Ilham stands to leave she shares a final consolation in the midst of such destruction: “Everyone is trying their best to live with each other harmoniously. We try to help the children by giving them peace: at the convent, we offer them a safe place.”
ACN supported the restoration of Our Lady of Rosary convent in favour of the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena in Telusquf (Telleskuf) with $ 65 700.
Text and photos by Jaco Klamer/ACN