Well, as my pic and post suggested last night, we are making treasured new friends and doing some great work: both the Etuti Institute project we funded for children and the caravan building project for destitute Christians in Sulaymaniyah have just been fantastic successes. As with everything else in life (and Iraq in particular), though, it’s a mixed bag.
At Mar Elia the Kurdish government apparently decided that there were too many people living in caravans and ordered them all removed. The Chaldean Church gave each family $300 to find an apartment, yet many are without jobs.
In some respects it’s great that there is a sentiment to encourage them to find more permanent housing. But in another way it breaks my heart.
All of these people are from the same town, Qaraqosh (you’ll may remember from our film, overrun by ISIS in 2014). One of the things these folks had despite losing everything, was their community, and each other. Their celebrations together had more uninhibited exuberance and joy than almost anything I see in the U.S.
The community and those deeply intertwined relationships sustained them. I can’t even imagine how they feel now they have been scattered trying to find affordable housing. It brought back, grimly, the title of our film, Where Is Our Place?
Where, indeed, for these faithful and loving people? I’ve tried to reach a couple whose numbers I have, but without success. It’s like they vanished, and I miss them. Fr. Douglas is in New Zealand I don’t for how long, and Fr. Daniel only comes to the church on certain nights to conduct service, and I hope to see him sometime.
All this only deepens my resolve to do something, anywhere we can, to love and accompany these people as they traverse this ongoing calamity for themselves and in their treasured communities. I am so proud of you and all the work we have been able to do. So let’s continue on and be the change we want to see in the world!