Pasta Factory Reopens in the Nineveh Plains

December 15, 2021 • Iraq
Samaritan’s Purse helped Rajan restart his pasta business after ISIS had stolen his equipment.
Samaritan’s Purse helped Rajan (at center) restart his pasta business after ISIS had stolen his equipment.

Samaritan’s Purse helps bring hope to war-torn community by rebuilding a business after ISIS had destroyed it.

Northern Iraq Projects

The town of Bashiqa, Iraq, was once known for its factories. Olive oil, pickles, and tahini—a Middle Eastern sesame paste—were all produced here in great quantities. Thirty such factories used to significantly contribute to the economy of the Nineveh Plains. And among them stood one lone pasta factory that shipped its product to more distant areas of Iraq. This business was Rajan’s* pride and joy.

The pasta is inspected as part of the production process.

But in 2014, when ISIS invaded this area—home to Christians, Yazidis, and Muslims alike—they looted, vandalized, and burned anything of value. Rajan’s factory, like so many of the others, was left inoperable.

Rajan was devastated when he surveyed the destruction to his property and saw that his pasta-making machine was stolen. How would he provide for his family of six?

“I lost my hope,” he said.

Many of his fellow Yazidis felt the same and responded to the crisis by emigrating to other nations in search of safety. All Rajan wanted to do, though, was to stay and rebuild his business.

Restoring Life and Hope

“I had a small hope that someone would help,” Rajan said.

That hope was kindled when he heard that Samaritan’s Purse was offering assistance to businesses. Rajan interviewed for the program, and soon our team in Iraq was drawing up a business plan for him. They also helped replace his equipment.

Rajan is grateful to provide for his employees, including those pictured here who bag the product.

“Samaritan’s Purse provided the heart of the factory,” Rajan said, referring to the machine that makes the pasta. We provided 60 percent of the funds for this equipment, and Rajan contributed the remaining 40 percent. In addition, our teams also helped him market his product and even supplied him with apprentices.

“This support helps me bring my main resource to life again,” Rajan said, grateful not only for personal provision, but also for the salary he is now able to give his employees and apprentices.

Before the ISIS invasion, Rajan employed up to 20 people. Today, he’s pleased to provide jobs for 10. Even so, he still has his sights set on one day running at 100 percent capacity.

Behind the Scenes

Rajan’s factory utilizes a multi-step process to prepare the pasta for sale.

The pasta is prepared for nationwide shipment.

First, flour is placed in large pots and inserted into a vibrating machine, which cleans away the debris. Next, the clean flour is mixed with water and the kneading begins. When kneading is complete, the pasta is cut into its final shape. Then, the pasta is dried for five to seven hours. Finally, after the moisture is removed, the pasta is placed in bags bearing the company logo and sent to markets.

The particular kind of pasta made in Rajan’s factory is used in traditional Iraqi cuisine and is served together with rice.

By supporting this business, Samaritan’s Purse is not only breathing life back into Rajan and his community, but also contributing to a sense of national identity. Now, their uniquely Iraqi pasta is being produced again on the Nineveh Plains.

“Many thanks to Samaritan’s Purse for what they have given,” Rajan said. “When you help your community with job opportunities you will be so satisfied.”

Samaritan’s Purse has helped a total of 10 businesses in Bashiqa rebuild, including the pasta factory, a carpentry shop, a tahini factory, and others. Please pray for these companies to continue to extend hope to the community that has suffered so much.

*Name changed for security

Rajan is deeply grateful for the assistance Samaritan’s Purse provided his company.

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.

Northern Iraq Projects 013929