First of all, we want to thank everyone who has helped us over the past year, and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
At the start of the year, the charity was just a thought, an aspiration to do more to help the Christian communities in Ankawa, Iraq. As we celebrate Christmas we are now fully up and running, and are getting near the final fundraising target for our first major project - the mobile school unit - which we hope to deliver in early 2016.
Sadly, whilst we as a charity have changed, much in Iraq remains the same. The centres continue to house thousands of families seeking refuge in temporary accomodation; children continue to be failed by poor or non-existent education; major organisations are struggling with the numbers to provide food; employment is scarce and the expectation of returning home is disappearing.
As we write, a cohort of around 150 people from the main centre we support (Mar Elias) have been given asylum in Europe, arriving there in time for Christmas. Whilst we welcome their new lives in safety, we continue to worry about the impact on those left behind, and the long term future of Christians in the Middle East. We will continue in 2016 to work to provide a future for all those affected by persecution and war seeking refuge in Ankawa.
At a recent confrerence in Rome, our trustee Fr. Marcus Walker, was able to meet with many of the leaders of the churches in the Middle East. The future is not a place of hope for Christians in this part of the world and they continue to be extremely grateful for our work in supporting them. The Patriarch (leader) of the Syriac Catholic Church, had a few words about the situation and thanks for our support; an edited video of his thanks is here.
This Christmas, let us remember the good news that Christmas gives us and God's love for us, but let us also pray for a better year ahead:
We pray that your love is felt this Christmas by all of us,
and thank you for the gift of salvation brought to us through the Good News of the birth of your Son;
We pray that, like the Holy Family,
you are with those whose faith in you is a cause of their persecution;
And we pray for Peace, that fear of others may cease,
that violence in the name of religion will end,
and that all of humanity recognises the gift that is your love,
In the name of Christ Jesus, born to save us all,