This information comes directly from the refugee camps in the Middle East.
The stories of struggle and escape are unique to each individual, but after many years the pain looks and sounds wearily similar. However, what makes NOW different is – camps have taken in so many refugees in the past 3 years, the country’s infrastructure is now at a critical breaking point (Water, electricity, housing, education etc). Thank God for people willing to serve those caught in great need – and for organizations like Gleaning For The World – whose help continues to be invaluable.
Iraqis are not allowed to work due to the country’s already high unemployment rate of 30% among its own citizens. Therefore, these new Iraqi refugees will be completely dependent for their daily sustenance – on the generosity of Christian and other charitable organizations.
Six weeks ago, there was a severe medicine shortage in Aleppo, Syria. We were able to deliver $22,000 worth of medicine. Last month, the same area went 21 days without water, more resources were needed.
In addition, many homes and neighborhoods will simply remain dangerous to enter due to damage. Chances are, it will be an international commitment of several years for communities to re-form.
The only route of escape for survivors is the hard road of a refugee. Today, the stories of two women spanning the generations of Iraqi Christians who have fled.
Lena is a 24 year old widow with two children ages 4 and 2. With hundreds of thousands of people trapped in her home city of Mosul, and her father suffering from kidney failure – Lena chose to abandon their home in a dangerous neighborhood. She and her children now live with relatives who have also escaped. After assisting her father’s departure for Germany and medical treatment, Lena scrambled to support her little ones. Our work with her has been a godsend.
Mahla recently turned 70 years old. Also an Iraqi Christian widow, Mahla has four sons. In her village just outside Mosul, militants were banging on her door. She was given two days to pay ISIS a tax – or paint a large N on her home indicating that ISIS was now the property owner. Mahla had no choice but to run with two sons, leaving her older two sons with family. Arriving here, Mahla faces the same dilemma as thousands of other Iraqi Christian refugees – complete dependence on the generosity of others. Yes, she and her sons are grateful to be safe, but they are not allowed to work. On meeting our partners, Mahla exclaimed, “I know the Lord sent you to me. Bless you for your help. Praise God and thank you to your donors.”
That night we served approximately 500 people…older men with lost looks on their faces, women dressed in black, widows who had lost husbands, brothers…their homes. And children – a lot of kids. Kids babysitting kids. Each person there was served a hot meal, a plate with a piece of chicken, rice and tabbouleh. There was a woman there in her 30s, a widow with 5 children – she could only bring 3 with her – the oldest age 9 stayed home with the baby – we sent food home with her and many others. But before we started, we prayed, and said to all gathered, “We love you with the Love of Jesus” – and I was hooked. This was my personal intro to the largest humanitarian disaster and relief effort since WWII.
The hard irony of war is that it’s results fall on those who are marginalized in the first place. To be born female in the Middle East (and many other parts of the world) is to be born a disappointment. Yet, it is women and children who bear the heaviest burdens of refugee life – with the least power and fewest resources.
Many refugees escaping Iraq are educated with college degrees. Syrians are known across the Middle East for their skills as craftsmen and in business. You would be happy to have most of these people for neighbors.