All projects underway adding up to a total amount of 5.77 million CAN – one of the largest efforts in ACN’s history – shows the scale of the drama experienced by our Iraqi brothers and sisters. If our partners recognize us for our support, we still know that they are far from the end of this unspeakable catastrophe. The threat remains and the fragility of their hearts no less persistent.
This is why we still your help to continue supporting our brothers and sisters of the Middle-East trapped and forced to seek refuge elsewhere in their country… if not in another.
Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director
Werenfried Village – new hope and new homes for displaced Christians
John Pontifex, ACN United Kingdom Amanda Bridget-Griffin, ACN Canada
Overhead a crane lowers its cargo gently into position. The latest in a series of portable cabins is set firm on a site now proudly bearing the title ‘Werenfried Village.’ ACN staff were there in Ankawa, outside the Kurdish capital, Erbil, as work progressed on the new complex being created for 200 families – 1,000 people, each of them desperate for a new life away from the privations of displacement. Each family will have a cabin to themselves – with a range of sizes available. 150 cabins are being funded by Aid to the Church in Need as part of an emergency relief program amid deepening crisis in northern Iraq.
Time is of the essence for the families, who urgently need a secure roof over their heads in place of the tented camps which have been home since they were driven out of their ancient Christian communities in Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh Plains. One such family are the Mattis. We met them in the St Elias Shrine, Ankawa, where theirs is among a series of tents that throng the site. “We just want to go home,” said Khalid Matti, father of eight – two boys and eight girls.
But with hopes disappearing of an early return to the Christian town of Qaraqosh, from which they escaped on August 7th, more permanent accommodation is now an absolute top priority. All the more so as winter is approaching quickly with the threat of heavy rains and tumbling temperatures which will turn the tented camp into a cold and muddy quagmire. Pointing to his little boy, Awas – aged 12 months – Khalid openly wonders if his youngest son will ever know Qaraqosh, the town his family have known and loved for generations.
A village of hope
But at least in the Werenfried Village, safe and warm in their portable cabins, they can get through the winter and escape the worst of the cold. Cabins are supplied with electricity, running water is on tap for washing and cleaning and there will be decent toilet facilities. The lay-out of the site is such that there will be space outside for families to cook; each are being provided with a gas stove. Food and clean water will continue to be provided – again with help from the likes of ACN.
Life in Werenfried Village may not be a heavenly bliss but at least it will provide a home from home for families who have nothing. Before we bade farewell, Khalid Matti said: “Please pray for us. Thank you for coming to us and sharing your time with us.” ACN is sharing compassion as well as time, supporting the Werenfried Village. The village will give hope to the likes of little Awas, a little boy whose name means “Angelic”; he is being helped by the ministering angels who are the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need.
Aid to the Church in Need announces 12 urgent aid packages for Iraq to help the thousands of displaced Iraqi Christians. They are to receive food, shelter, schooling and gifts for children in a concerted emergency relief program rushed through by a Catholic charity before the onset of winter. The 4 million Euros scheme announced by Aid to the Church in Need – one of the largest in the charity’s 67-year history – also includes pastoral support for priests and Sisters displaced by the crisis that has swept the country.