Looking back, and looking forward

Merry Christmas!

Looking back at 2016

2016 has been a memorable year for many reasons. This holds true for our activity on the ground in Ankawa where there has been rapid change in the support given to those made homeless by the persecution and violence in Iraq.

We were thrilled in the summer to deliver on our commitment to provide a minibus for use by both children to access education and adults to access physical and mental health support. Thank you to everyone who made this happen.

New homes but ongoing challenges

However, much is changing. You will know from news reports that there is an on-going conflict to take back the city of Mosul from ISIS (Da’esh/ISIL). This has seen large parts of the Christian region of Nineveh liberated. This is good news, but it also starts a long and painful period of recovery and return for some families.

Back in Ankawa, families have made a new life for themselves in houses around the town, and we are pleased to report that this Christmas, after two years, the centre in the Mar Elias churchyard will be closed as the last of the families are re-housed in local accommodation.

Whilst this is excellent progress, it does raise new challenges.

Access to medical support, especially mental health and trauma care, was easier to deliver when families lived together. The churches in Ankawa are now working to ensure that, while families enjoy better privacy and access to kitchens and bathrooms, isolation does not become a problem, especially amongst women and the disabled. This is where our bus is proving a God-send in bringing these vulnerable groups to the centre for the support they need.

We have also worked to promote solidarity between U.K. Christian communities and the people of Ankawa. We have been delighted by the continuing support of several U.K. schools and we are in the process of delivering a kind gift of art, educational supplies and presents from UK schoolchildren to their counterparts in Mar Elias.

Plans for 2017

The new situation and the unknown future for the thousands of families in northern Iraq means that we still have a role to play. Fundraising has continued throughout the second half of 2016 and we are grateful to all our donors.

Our challenge for the new year is how we can best aid the work of Mar Elias in providing counseling for those suffering with mental health needs, especially mothers and teenagers. We intend to develop our links with the ‘Centre for the Self In Need’ established by the church in order to provide the care so desperately needed by those still affected by the horrors of the last two years. While the physical needs of the community are being met, the psychological scars will take much longer to heal. We will be outlining specific projects that we will be supporting in the new year.

Your generosity is bringing peace of mind to those affected by the trauma of persecution.

Thank you once again.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy New Year.

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