I returned recently from a trip to assess conditions of the Christian community in Erbil, northern Iraq. And I thought I was prepared. But nothing could have prepared me for the hopelessness I found when I saw it in person. It was very tough to handle.
Trip to Erbil, Iraq
The streets of Kurdistan’s largest city are lined with children begging for money, for food, for anything to ease their suffering. Displaced families are everywhere; in tents and churches and unfinished buildings.
One thousand people were packed into one unfinished building in a mall. There was no flooring, no privacy. Makeshift wooden dividers separated families. Living in a construction site, many suffer from sinus infections and skin and eye problems. They have nothing. They share a tank of gas to cook their meager meals. They are all well educated and had built lives for themselves and their families. Now they have nothing. Two little girls…..as their parents were killed. Now, they hold each other and cry inconsolably. Who will care for them now? This is only one of countless stories of horror and suffering.
The Mobile Clinic Project
With so many desperate refugees, there is not nearly enough medical care. We were able to buy, refurnish, and supply a mobile clinic to provide free medical services. Each new clinic would have cost about $225,000; but we were able to find a used clinic and refurnish it with all it needs for $50,000. A doctor from Iraq has accepted to staff it and help. We have supplied it with two air conditioners and medical equipment. But there is a great need for medicine. Our goal is to have it ready by the end of November. Each mobile clinic will have a small reception area, a doctor’s room, an X-ray room, a laboratory, a dental clinic, and a pharmacy.
Trip to Bandewya
On the third day of our trip, we went to a village just a few miles from ISIS, on the other side of the Mosul dam. We had to take a security car that drove next to us and an extra van in case there was a problem with our vehicle. We were always in touch with the head security office in Erbil, and we had orders to be back in Erbil before sunset. It was a dangerous, six-hour drive.
Bandewya is a Christian village, population 800. Many people from Mosul ran away to this village for protection from ISIS. We arrived with two trucks filled with basic necessities. We were able to distribute mattresses, warm covers for winter, food parcels, and heaters. Soon, the snows will come, threatening the lives of those who are not equipped to survive.
The families were very thankful and appreciative; no one has ever tried to reach them before. They understood the risks we took to get there. They told us they can hear bombs exploding and the crack of rifle fire from the valley below and said they will have to flee to Erbil soon, because ISIS is getting closer.
If the Lord leads you to share a special gift today to help us minister to those in need and demonstrate his love, you may send it to Hope Builders International or give on the Contribute page.Thank you for your compassion and for your friendship. You are a constant encouragement to all of us at Manara. May the God of peace be with you and those you love.
Isam Ghattas and the Manara Team