Khristine’s mother, Anush* says she and the children fled their home nearly six weeks ago, leaving her husband, who was fighting on the frontline. “There were only two sentences that my husband said when he called during the war: ‘I’m okay,’ and ‘I want to hear my children’s voices.’”
The family plans to rebuild their lives in Stepanakert. Anush notes that, based on what they have heard, only the roof of their house was damaged in the fighting. “It took us over eight years to build that house,” she says.
But even though she is grateful the house is intact and they can return home, Anush says she is afraid of what the future will bring, as they will live just ten minutes from the town of Shushi, which is now controlled by Azerbaijan. “We are frightened to return… It won’t be the same anymore. How can I let my children play outside? Snipers from Shushi can easily shoot my children while they play.”
An estimated 13,000 people have already returned to Stepanakert, although the town is a shadow of its former self. Broken windows and bombed out houses serve as constant reminders of the fighting--and the work ahead to rebuild.