How you have helped a village in northern Iraq
Back in January we asked you which of our projects in Iraq and Jordan you would most like to support. 69% of you chose ‘Job creation for Iraqi Christians returning to the Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq’. We have listened to you. This week, we are pleased to share a photo of our first Nineveh SEED job creation project – commercial greenhouses in the Christian village of Karamles. These new structures will ensure that food can be grown year-round. Thank you to all those who have supported this project.
Karamles was occupied by ISIS for nearly two years. During their occupation of the village, ISIS fighters reportedly burned an 80 year old woman to death for failing to comply with their warped interpretation of the Sharia. In their attempt to erase Christianity from the area, they also destroyed a large portion of the historic Mar Behnam Monastery on the outskirts of the town which belongs to the Syriac Catholic Church. Images of this violent desecration are still on social media.
After vicious fighting, Karamles was liberated on October 24 2016 by the Iraqi Army, which, on the same day, returned crosses to the domes of some of the main churches. Most of the village’s Christian population had fled to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. While many have since returned, there are no jobs for them. As is often the case with reconstruction, roads and buildings are the priority. However, without livelihoods the returnees may be forced to leave the village again to find work. It is a new tragedy in the making.
Why planting seeds is so important
Temperatures in northern Iraq are in the mid-40s (Celsius). The greenhouses at Karamles will provide optimum conditions for the growing of vegetables, herbs and flowers. Right now, food and goods are being trucked into the Nineveh Plain from as far afield as Turkey. This is not a reliable or environmentally friendly way for people to get their food. Planting in the greenhouses in Karamles will begin in October.
Our Nineveh SEED project is, as the name suggests, all about planting seeds in this war-ravaged part of Iraq. It is also about giving people hope. Other projects in the pipeline include greenhouses in the village of Teleskuf and the planting of olive trees in various locations. For this project, we hope to partner with Ghasin AL-Zaiton Organization for Youth, a local Iraqi charity. They have an impressive record of delivery in the region and have already planted olive trees and restored recreational spaces in a number of villages.
Northern Iraq is in the grip of drought and providing new irrigation (as in the headline photo) is an essential requirement. One of the big stories in the news this week is the emergence of the Kemune Palace of the Mittani Empire. The archaeological remains are now visible due to the receding waters of the Tigris. Western media outlets are pointing to the wondrous beauty of this place. However, in the background of the photos you can see miles of arid scrubland. That scrubland is reality for the people we are helping. Above all, we want to ensure that Iraqi Christian communities in the Nineveh Plain don’t end up disappearing into the annals of history as Kemune did.
How you can help
Your support for Nineveh SEED makes all the difference. You can make a donation via our donate page (there are numerous options for how to donate). Alternatively, you can send us a cheque made out to ‘FRRME’ to: FRRME, PO Box 229, Petersfield, Hants, GU32 9DL, United Kingdom. American supporters wishing to make a donation can do so here.