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Iraq: Families repair their homes in Iraq with your support
12 July 2017
Twelve-year-old Noeh stands in the ruins of his burnt-out bedroom. He and his family fled the village of Karamles when extremists invaded in 2014. Now the fighters have been driven out, and the families can return.
Much of the village has been devastated. But still Noeh dreams of a return.
"I want my bedroom to be colourful," he says, "red, blue and green with pictures of FC Barcelona and Jesus on the wall."
Will you speak up for Noeh and other Christians in the Middle East? 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.
Christians are already returning
Elsewhere thanks to your help Christians are already starting to return and rebuild.
After three years of occupation by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), the Iraqi prime minister has declared victory over IS in Mosul. But just 20 miles away in nearby Qaraqosh, your prayers and support have enabled 74 families to repair their homes and prepare to return.
One of those who has received support is Najib Ina (pictured below). His home was used by IS to store all the sand and stones when they were digging a tunnel, and there is a large hole in the floor of the one of the bedrooms of Najib's house where the tunnel was started. Every wall of the house is covered in writing: in one place is the signature of 'Abu Asman', one of the militants, and in another place it says 'He who refuses Islamic State will surely be killed'. Your support and prayers are enabling Najib to repair his home.
Qaraqosh was liberated from the self-proclaimed Islamic State at the end of 2016. Before the invasion of IS, the city had been home to 50,000 Christians; they were forced to flee to escape the militants in the summer of 2014. Some of the houses were burned from the inside or ransacked and vandalised by the militants, like Najib's house; other parts of the town were completely destroyed by bombs or rockets.
When asked how they decided where to begin their repairs, George, a church leader from Qaraqosh, explained, "We decided to restore the city piece by piece so that we wouldn't get isolated houses where a family would live between empty houses. The main thought is that we need to recreate the sense of community."
The first houses to be repaired are close to the centre of the town, where there are a few shops. Over twenty small shops have opened in Qaraqosh, a sign that the town is coming back to life. Most of these small businesses sell construction materials and paint, but a small cafeteria has also opened its doors, as well as a shop where water and other drinks can be bought.
One of the shopkeepers told an Open Doors local partner, "I know the security is not okay yet, but I wanted to start my life here again. A lot of families want to go back, but they don't have the resources to do so."
George (pictured below) told Open Doors local partner, "Your organisation has committed to help restoring parts of our town. By doing that, you gave hope to many families, but much more is needed."
As well as repairing homes, Open Doors is supporting displaced believers to start small businesses. It costs between £1,000 and £4,000 to set up a family in sustainable employment or to repair their home. For example £60 could pay for a water tank on a bomb-damaged roof.
BRING HOPE TO THE MIDDLE EAST
Open Doors has launched the Hope for the Middle East campaign, mobilising the church around the world to pray, give and speak out for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, such as Najib, George and the residents of Qaraqosh. Here are three ways you can stand with them:
- Pray. Jacoub, a church leader from Bartella, one of the Iraqi villages that was recently liberated, says, "Thank God that the 'dark cloud' covering the Christian villages in the Nineveh plains has been taken away since the Iraqi government was able to retake control there. We believe that through prayers this has happened. This makes me believe that God will hear our other prayers too. So please continue to pray for the restoration of the Christian villages. Pray that people might start returning to their houses and land. Pray they might live there with dignity, in freedom and peace."
- Give. £60 could pay for a water tank on a bomb damaged roof.
- Speak out. George says, "I think we need at least an international commitment to survey our situation, to push the government to protect the vulnerable minorities like the Christians and the Yazidis." 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.
More News from Iraq:
- Christians fear referendum vote will bring more violence
- Christian children return home to Karamles
- Church leader optimistic despite upcoming referendum
- Christian woman released after three years in captivity
- Rebuilding Hope in Karamles
Find out more about persecution in Iraq.