I am nowhere near Tal Afar. That's over by Syria and I am closer to Iran. Closer to Kirkuk.
In fact, I'm probably closer to Baghdad than Tal Afar. I can actually hear bombs when they explode in Baghdad. And sometimes armed men patrol the streets and we all have to hide inside until they pass so they don't kidnap us or steal the children.
Plus, when we go the market we have to keep our eyes open for truck bombers, or car bombers, or suicide bombers or snipers and the like. It's pretty stressful. Especially since so many of our friends have died in the past few years. It's been pretty hard on all of us.
My neighbors have even started moving away. The ones that can afford it have left the country and many have gone north to the safer regions, but the ones that can't afford it have gone to the refugee camps up north or in Syria. I hear it's pretty rough there.
But even more than the ones who have left are the ones who stay behind. I don't know if they can't leave or they just have hope for the future, but they stay around like us; afraid everyday.
Of course, this isn't really true for me. I walk around the city without fear and I've never heard a bomb, but it is true for millions of people in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq (like Tal Afar). So, I thank God everyday that I don't live there and I pray every day that they would know peace like I know peace.