Dr Rawaa Qasha is an Assistant Professor and Director of Scholarships and Cultural Relations at the University of Mosul, a Christian from Alqosh, North of Mosul. Rawaa’s map attempts to preserve the heritage, identity and geography of the Christian village of Alqosh. Rawaa’s family and ancestors have strong connections to the mountainous landscape, the monastery and to ancient traditions passed through generations. From thousands of kilometres away in Newcastle, England, Rawaa agonized for weeks over the fate of her family, village and history as ISIS were progressing towards Alqosh in 2014.
At that time, I was in the UK doing my PhD at Newcastle University, watching everything on my phone and weeping. The entire University heard about what was going on. There was a lot of empathy and support around me but all I was thinking of was my family back home. A few weeks later, the Peshmerga returned to their positions. People started returning to their homes in Alqosh and within two months, the entire village returned to their homes despite the fact that 15km away, Telskuf (another Chaldean village north of Mosul) was already occupied by ISIS. I returned home from the UK in spring 2015 (8 months after these events).
After making sure my family were safe, the first thing I checked when I returned home was my grandfather’s sculpting and calligraphy tools because they were left behind in the house when my parents left to Duhok during the events. These are heirlooms that I would have felt incredibly upset if we had lost. They remind me of our roots into this place and also our heritage as my grandfather’s books have reached as far as India and Europe.