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Iraq: Stone factory brings hope as battle for Mosul continues
22 February 2017
As Iraqi forces continue the battle to retake Mosul, 25 miles away from the city a stone factory has been opened with the support of Open Doors to bring hope and employment to local people.
The factory employs 50 people who worked in Mosul before the city was taken over by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). Many of the families in the surrounding villages have been skilled stone cutters for generations, and worked as stone cutters in Mosul. When they could no longer work there, they were unable to support their families.
Nashwan, one of the men now employed at the stone factory, says, "I had worked for 20 years in stone cutting, and suddenly I was unemployed. I had no means of caring for my wife and three children; they are depending on my income. We worried about our future in this country, especially as we saw so many other families migrate.
"Without this project I would still be unemployed at home. But now it is better. I can take care of my family again. We hope for better times. We thank the church for supporting us."
The project was initiated by the Mar Matti monastery, and they worked with the local community and a local Open Doors partner to get the project started. Open Doors supported the project through local partners with a grant to purchase the equipment to get the factory up and running.
Father Yosef, who is overseeing the project on behalf of the monastery, said, "Most products are sold in Baghdad. There are no mountains there, so they have to buy their stone products here in the north. All these workers are now able to support their families. We hope this will give them a reason to stay in this country."
He continues, "This project offers long-term hope since it guarantees people's salary for the future. And it has become self-sufficient, no new grants are needed to support this factory."
Iraq is number 7 on the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List. Open Doors has been working with local partners and churches in Iraq for over 20 years to support the church through training, crisis relief, community development projects, and distributing Bibles and Christian literature.
Bring hope to the Middle East
Open Doors has launched a global, seven-year campaign to mobilise Christians around the world to bring hope to the Middle East - and we need you and your church to be a part of it. Here are three things you can do to support people like Father Yosef and Nashwan:
- Pray. Order a free Pray for ME resource pack to help you lead others in prayer for the church in Iraq and Syria.
- Give. Every £42 can provide an emergency food parcel to feed a family of five in Iraq or Syria for a month.
- Speak out. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition, asking for equality, dignity and responsibility for Christians and other minorities in the Middle East, which will be presented to the UN Secretary General in December. If you've already signed it, download a copy and ask others to sign it too.
- That God will continue to use the stone factory and other similar projects to bring hope to the Middle East
- For provision for more projects like this that can help provide long-term help for Iraqi people
- For protection for Father Yosef, Nashwan and others who are close to where IS are still operating
- For God to change the hearts of members of IS and turn them to Himself.
More News from Iraq:
- Sweet factory provides security and hope for Christian families
- 300 Christians celebrate Easter in liberated Bartella
- Christians return to burned out churches to celebrate Palm Sunday
- Displaced Christians celebrate Christmas as they prepare to return home
- Martin returns to Karamles
Find out more about persecution in Iraq.