A priest on a mission
Father Salar is a Chaldean Catholic Priest who lives in the Nineveh Plain. This arid flatland in the north of the country is the home of Iraqi Christianity. FRRME Chief Exec, Mike Simpson, met Salar in London last autumn. He then invited Salar to travel from the north of Iraq to Baghdad earlier this year to see the work of St George’s, including the medical clinic.
While in Baghdad, Salar told us about the martyrdom of his best friend. Unfazed by the risks, Salar is back in Nineveh coordinating the rebuilding of five Christian villages. Given the location, sandwiched between Iran-backed militias, Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi government troops, and ISIS jihadis, this could be the most dangerous parish in the world.
Salar hits the nail on the head
Salar is doing his best to minister to the returning Christians. However, there are many challenges. While the home reconstruction effort is underway, there are no long-term jobs. After the initial elation of being home, returnees are hit by the harsh reality that they may not be able to stay. Salar is clear about what the problems are and is equally clear about the solution:
“As the parish priest, many young people come to me with depression. They ask for help and I have to help them, not materially but by speaking and advising them. But… I am not convinced this is the solution. The solution is to give them work.”
This is how we make the situation better
The Trump administration promised direct aid for the Christians of Nineveh. However, that aid has not been forthcoming. Once again, it is down to NGOs and fellow Christians to help. When we visited Nineveh in the spring we listened to the needs of those we met. Their message was clear – without jobs there is no hope for the future.
Our new programme, Nineveh SEED, will address this problem. We aim to fund small business initiatives and development projects in this ignored and beleaguered part of Iraq. Unless we can help these persecuted people get back on their feet, they will be forced to leave a second time. As we wrap up the interview, Salar reminds us of the simple humanity of his mission:
“We have people who suffered from ISIS and we want to help them. We want to open a door for them to have a good life and find happiness.”
Please support this amazing project
To support Nineveh SEED or any of our other projects, 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.