How do you rebuild humanity in Iraq?
Father Aram is an extraordinary man. During our interview with him in the northern Iraqi town of Alqosh, he says: “Our mission is to build humanity again.” A lot of people are talking about rebuilding the towns and villages destroyed by ISIS. Father Aram wants to rebuild the people.
Father Aram helps run a small trauma centre in Alqosh. Of his work there he says: “With mental health you need time. You need to follow up with patients. You need to get them back to normal life.” In Iraq, people with mental health problems are often branded “crazy”. Overcoming this stigma is a challenge.
Another challenge is forgiveness. Alqosh was on the front line with ISIS. Despite repeated attempts to occupy the town, the people there were able to keep the jihadis at bay. However, many of those attending the trauma centre come from other towns and villages which were occupied.
Father Aram says: “If some people are survivors of this situation it is not easy to ask them to forgive. Maybe we can forgive but it’s not easy.”
We are providing treatment for mental wounds
We believe in the power of trauma counselling. Thanks to a grant we received from The Jerusalem Trust, we are funding a new ‘Child and Youth Empowerment Centre’ in Jordan. It provides trauma counselling to Iraqi refugees in Amman. Our partner in this project is The Nazarene Church which has sheltered hundreds of Iraqi Christians fleeing their homeland.
The centre provides a safe space for the refugees to enjoy simple activities such as art, music and English language classes. We are already seeing results. People who had seen the very worst of humanity are now seeing the very best of humanity.
We would like to help more people
We would like to extend this much-needed project to another church in Jordan and to northern Iraq, working with our partner churches there. Many of those we are currently helping are Christians who were terrorised by ISIS. They are tentatively returning home but as Father Aram says, it is not just the houses which need rebuilding.
The Iraqi refugees we are helping remain positive but some are struggling to come to terms with what they have seen. It is particularly difficult for the children, many of whom have witnessed barbaric violence. Languishing in a refugee camp year after year is also taking its toll. With your help, we can provide trauma counselling to more people.
Please make a donation and support our work
If you would like to support our work, please visit the donate page on our website (there are numerous options for how to donate) or send us a cheque made out to ‘FRRME‘ to: FRRME, PO Box 229, Petersfield, Hants, GU32 9DL, United Kingdom. Thank you.