Like many stories about the atrocities of ISIS, Sana’s account remained buried for years. The kidnappings of Christians by ISIS have been kept silent, out of shame and fear. Now, one by one, the stories come to the surface. The reality of the pain and trauma left behind are coming into focus and now, more than ever, Iraq’s Christians need hope.
We meet Sana in her house in Erbil, a city in northern Iraq. She looks tired—tired of waiting for news of her family, tired of the continuous memories of the atrocities she saw. Her emotions are flat. The only moment a little spark appears in her eyes is when she talks about her children: her 25-year-old daughter Tania and her missing sons Tony (born in 1994), “quiet and protective” and Issa (born in 2001), “my little angel.”
Sana has kept her story to herself because she feared repercussions for her husband and sons. But recently her daughter has been encouraging her to share the story. “She told me, ‘there is nothing wrong with that—speak up!’” Sana says. “So, I will talk. Maybe someone knows where my missing husband and sons are. I have hope.”
Sana shows us a photograph that was taken shortly before ISIS entered Qaraqosh, the city where she lived. The picture shows Sana, her husband Sabah and their three children posing in front of their church. Sana softly touches the face of Issa in the middle. It is the last family picture Sana has.