Despite Challenges, Ministry Flourishes in Iraq

March 25, 2020 • Iraq
Samaritan’s Purse operates Grace Community Center just outside this camp for some of Iraq’s internally displaced people.

Building on more than a decade of service in the country, Samaritan’s Purse continues to help the people of Iraq amid ongoing tensions in the region.

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Even though ISIS was ousted from Iraq years ago, the effects of their reign of terror continue to be felt. Thousands of innocent citizens remain displaced and struggle to find adequate housing and ways to provide financially for their families.

As tensions, insecurity, and occasional conflicts continue in the country, Samaritan’s Purse is present, seeking to reduce suffering and demonstrate God’s love.

Among the Displaced

In Nineveh province, Samaritan’s Purse is working in four different camps of internally displaced people (IDPs) to provide food, screen for malnutrition, and offer child-friendly spaces as well as trauma healing counseling groups for parents. Many of these IDPs are conservative Muslims who are surprised that Christians are helping them. Yet they often seek out our staff for prayer, input on their marriages, and to learn more about the Bible. In addition, graduates from our programs are telling their friends, “You need to hear what they’re teaching.”

Yazidi women receive instruction in sewing at the community center operated by Samaritan’s Purse.

Since 2016, Samaritan’s Purse has distributed more than 19,000 tons of food at various IDP camps and, since 2017, has operated nutrition centers where we have screened more than 35,000 children under age 5—treating 3,000 of them for acute malnutrition.

Further north outside the mountain town of Dohuk, Samaritan’s Purse runs Grace Community Center (GCC) for Yazidi families living in and around the Khanke IDP camp. This minority group was specifically targeted by ISIS and still bears wounds from the attacks. At the community center, our staff offers livelihoods classes for the whole family ranging from carpentry to sewing to computer literacy. There are also play activities for the children. In addition to offering trauma counseling, the center has a medical clinic that treated 2,700 patients in 2019.

One mother in the Khanke camp said, “There is no other organization like Samaritan’s Purse in Khanke because they not only help us with our physical needs—with food or clothes—but they also care for our children. I am so thankful that my children could go to many activities (at Grace) where they’ve learned how to clean themselves and how to play with other children in a nice environment. We were also visited by the Samaritan’s Purse WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) team, and they gave us instructions on how to clean our teeth and gave us toothbrushes and toothpaste for the whole family. Thank you so much Samaritan’s Purse team!”

For Those Who Have Returned Home

Across the Nineveh Plains where Christians have lived for centuries, Samaritan’s Purse is helping families return home after ISIS forced them to flee. Since 2017, we have restored over 1,000 homes in Qaraqosh, Bashiqa, Bartella, Bahzani, and Namrud.

“Through Samaritan’s Purse staff, we see the face of Jesus.”

“With the help of Samaritan’s Purse our hope is back, if it wasn’t for this help we wouldn’t be able to have come back and fix our home,” said Sanaw* after we worked together with him to restore his house. “[The fact that you] help us in Jesus’ Name means the world to us and makes us happy and joyful, because, through Samaritan’s Purse staff, we see the face of Jesus.”

Samaritan’s Purse plans to rebuild 1,000 homes on the Nineveh Plains in 2020.

Another homeowner named Baraa returned from displacement to find himself unemployed and his home in Qaraqosh burned. “I was very sad and hopeless, but when Samaritan’s Purse came and assisted us in the reconstruction of our house, this was a great motivation for me to love my life again—especially when I found work with them,” he said. “Not only did my physical condition improve, but also my psychological and spiritual sides.”

The rebuilding continues in the region as Samaritan’s Purse plans to complete an additional 1,000 homes in 2020.

Further west in the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar, Samaritan’s Purse is also working to provide shelter and livelihood assistance. By the end of 2020, 1,000 home repairs should be completed in the region. To help provide sustainable income for families who have lost nearly everything, Samaritan’s Purse has distributed sheep to 165 families and beehives to 175 households.

More than 160 Yazidi families who returned to their homes in Sinjar province received flocks of sheep from Samaritan’s Purse.

In addition, Samaritan’s Purse worked to rebuild the Al Zab irrigation scheme, which brought agricultural water to 15 communities—an estimated 16,000 people. One farmer named Omar* vividly recalls his land being occupied by ISIS. “Life was so cruel,” he said. “But after the water project started running, large areas and lands could be irrigated from the canals. The farmers began growing summer crops such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers.” This brought life back into their communities.

Please pray for the Iraqi people as they continue to heal from the atrocities of the past and for Samaritan’s Purse staff as they seek to share God’s love.

Note: The people of Iraq are currently facing restrictions on movement, like much of the world, due to the spread of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, Samaritan’s Purse staff are working in appropriate ways and progress continues on all of the projects described in this article.

*Names changed for security

Displaced children are given space to play at Grace Community Center.

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Northern Iraq
Northern Iraq Projects Samaritan's Purse continues to help meet the long-term physical and spiritual needs of those displaced by ISIS. Among our projects, we are offering a variety of livelihoods programs to assist the Yazidi people, and we have set up child-friendly spaces for boys and girls to learn and grow while staying in camps as well. We are also facilitating the return of Christian families to their homes and churches in the Plains of Nineveh. They need our help to repair damage, replace doors, windows, and fixtures, and paint over ISIS graffiti as they reclaim their towns in the Name of Jesus.

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