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'The feeling of homesickness is now very painful.'

It was February 2015,  three o’clock in the morning, when they started with shooting. Now, after four years of war, we are used to the gunfire in the distance but on this night, it came very close by. That night the message from IS was loud and clear: all Assyrian Christians out of the village. 


In the darkness we fled in panic from our village Tell Nasri to the larger city of Al Hasakah, where the church opened its doors for us. Here we stayed for a week, not knowing what we must do. We were given some clothes from the community and slept without blankets on the ground. 

The moment of getting onto the bus to Qamishli.

After four days my father tried to return to the village to get a few things but he became so frightened halfway there that he turned around. After that we received the news that IS had destroyed our beautiful houses with bulldozers. 

People from the church tried to arrange busses and free passage to the border with Turkey 50 kilometres away. We heard strange stories about men walking around in the city who said: never come back here again otherwise your head will come off. In a war you do not know who is who. My mother, my cousin Shabi and I got onto the bus to Qamishli, a city near the border. Terrified we reached Turkey. Nearly 220 Assyrian men from our region are still missing.



We gave our Facebook-friends the opportunity to be part of our conversations by posting questions. Franssia, the mother of Wassim, answers the question of Francine: What do you miss most from home? (36 sec)





Shabi, the nephew of Wassim, answers the same question: What do you miss most from home?  (28 sec)


The aunt of Wassim and her son

Because my aunt lives in Beirut we took a plane from Turkey to Damascus and then went by car to Beirut. For three days now we have been sitting in my aunt’s small apartment, along with my cousin and her family. They fled to Beirut six months earlier because of the serious threats against their little son by Jabhat    Al Nusra.

But here too we cannot stay for long. The apartment is far too small for all of us, and now that we have been left with nothing Lebanon is far too expensive. Here too I am not allowed to go to school, while I was in the first year of university. So I am unable to get my diplomas, just like Shabi. Not that Syrian diplomas make any difference at all here. 

My cousin’s husband was a lawyer in Syria but here in Beirut he has the greatest of difficulty in even finding a job at a falafel bar. This much to the great dismay of the Lebanese who themselves have a difficult time in finding work as well.




Franssia answers the question of Johan: What do you think your life will look like five years from now? (42 sec) 

Wassim and Shabi and their friends from Tell Nasri.

Yesterday we found some films on the internet where you can see how IS has been destroying our village. Shabi’s high school has been shot full of holes, the church tower has been flattened and the streets are filled with the corpses of Peshmerga fighters.

I know now for sure that we will never be able to go back since there is nothing left. That means too that we will never be able to go racing on our scooters with our friends again, or to our beloved church. The feeling of homesickness is now very painful. 

My mother, who always loved being at home on the land of her birthplace, now says: I want to leave here; it doesn’t matter to what country in the world. As long as it is not in the Middle East. 


A month later, IS completely blew up the Assyrian church of Virgin Mary in Tell Nasri, the beloved church of Wassim and his family.







Wassim and his little nephew Ana answer the question of Sidney: Who's the best Dutch football player? (53 sec)





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