From Genesis to today
Nineveh is first mentioned in The Book of Genesis. Only the ruins of the Biblical city remain but the plain of Nineveh to the north and east is still home to many of Iraq’s Christians. When ISIS swept through this ancient land in the summer of 2014, they destroyed villages and murdered thousands. Five years later, the security situation has improved enough that reconstruction is taking place. In some villages, life is starting to return to normal. But not everywhere is safe. Sadly, some villages have fallen under the control of militias bent on grabbing land and power.
In the safe parts of the Nineveh Plain we are playing an important role in the reconstruction effort. In the village of Karamles, commercial greenhouses are being built with funds from our supporters. There is a symbolism to growing food year-round. This type of farming is only done by people who intend to stay. We are also establishing a new bakery in the village of Teleskuf. I visited the site in March to meet with local people eager to get the project moving quickly. At this stage much of the food needed by villagers has to be brought in from outside. During my recent trip I was shocked to see how much produce has to be trucked in to northern Iraq from Turkey.
Multinational corporations are reticent about investing in the Nineveh Plain. However, the people on the ground are determined to rebuild. Having been at the sharp end of persecution, they would not go back unless they felt safe. They want to start afresh but they need help. In the village of Bakhdida, we are looking to invest in ‘Chicken City’, a network of chicken farms. The town was once the largest producer of poultry meat in the area. When ISIS took the town they stole all the chickens and anything of use that could be carried. We are in discussion with local partners on the ground about how best to resurrect this vital business. Watch this space.
At the end of this month myself and Christopher Segar (Trustee) will be fundraising in America. Speaking engagements have been arranged by our sister charity, FRRME America. We are grateful to our American colleagues for their continued support. One church in Georgia, USA has already given $12,000 for the Nineveh SEED programme. As a small NGO with many contacts on the ground, we are able to move quickly. However, even small restoration projects require significant investment. And there is something else which is needed aside from money. Faith.
Plant a seed this Easter
Christian leaders in Iraq have told us that the international community has given up on them. In a recent interview, Archbishop Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Church was highly critical of the current aid model. Governments are sometimes too monolithic to adapt to events and often lag behind small NGOs in providing support. This is why Iraqi Christians have turned to organisations like FRRME for help.
Our work is born out of close consultation with partners on the ground. However, there is a scriptural impetus for it too. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus describes how the Kingdom of Heaven will grow from humble beginnings into something greater. This is one reason that we named our programme ‘Nineveh SEED’. From the inception of our charity, we have tried to provide practical solutions but to also offer hope to those who have lost it. Please join us this Easter and plant a seed which will grow into something greater.
Mike Simpson, CEO
Please make a donation this Easter
We are a UK-registered charity and our work in northern Iraq is making a significant impact. To support us, please make a donation via our donate page (there are numerous options for how to donate). Or you can send us a cheque made out to ‘FRRME’ to: FRRME, PO Box 229, Petersfield, Hants, GU32 9DL, United Kingdom.