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Electricity and running water have returned, albeit sporadically. And the number of small shops purveying basic foodstuffs and household items continues to grow./p>

A local school reports another promising sign: the steady daily arrival of parents asking to register their children in an ongoing program.

Dressed in pants dotted with fresh paint, Gilbert Georgis brings his daughters Klarina, 10, and Klarissa, 12, to join the 270 students attending various classes — including art lessons, religious education and other recreational activities designed to help children process the trauma they have experienced.

“This is our land. We are not afraid,” says Mr. Georgis. A teacher who currently performs odd jobs around town as a handyman, he says he carefully planned his family’s return last week with his wife and four children.

“It’s better to live in a room here than to be in a house somewhere else,” he says.

With their home only sustaining minimal damage, the family preferred to return rather than pay $400 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in Ain Kawa — a suburb of Erbil, in nearby autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, where thousands of Christians have sought refuge since ISIS flushed them from their homes in August 2014.

Not everybody is as fortunate as Mr. Georgis. A recent comprehensive survey carried out by church authorities indicates that of the 6,826 housing units in Qaraqosh, about a third are severely damaged or burned, with some two-thirds sustaining partial damage. Almost 100 homes are completely destroyed and beyond repair.

Despite some shy rebuilding efforts by churches and homeowners, the estimated $70 million needed for the overall reconstruction of Qaraqosh still looms large. According to Father Jahola, several organizations have pledged to help with large finances, but substantial aid has not materialized yet.

The condition of Qaraqosh is not very different from that of most Christian towns in the Nineveh Plain, which typically report damage to 30 to 40 percent of structures — houses, schools, public institutions, churches, monasteries and hospitals alike.

But some towns, such as Batnaya, have been rendered completely uninhabitable, reporting 85 percent of buildings demolished under heavy aerial bombardment.

The total cost for the reconstruction of the Nineveh Plain, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars — if not billions — will require a significant mobilization of aid by foreign governments and international charities.

In September, local authorities hope more Christian families will leave their temporary makeshift housing in trailer camps in the Kurdish area and return to Qaraqosh and other Christian towns, continuing or even accelerating the area’s restoration. Yet maintaining this momentum will depend in part upon a decision by the Iraqi central government to resume administration of schools and other public services in Nineveh. Such a decision, it is believed, would also speed the restoration of other vital infrastructure.

But for the time being, residents tend to what they can — the physical condition of the towns, and the morale of the community.

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