Update: Solidarity with Christians in Iraq
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him… Psalm 42:5
Located in a poor Christian suburb of Beirut – Sad al Bouchreih – the Our Lady Dispensary (OLD) has just received $17,500 from The Outreach Foundation. In seeking to meet the needs of some of the thousands of Christian Iraqi families who were driven out of the northern part of Iraq in recent months and have now made their way to Sad al Bouchreih, the OLD is, quite literally, dispensing hope. This is an area where Syrian Orthodox, Chaldean Catholic and Assyrian Orthodox communities predominate and where migrant workers and displaced persons have made a precarious home for decades.
Established by the Middle East Council of Churches and local congregations at the height of the Lebanese Civil War, the OLD has served the poor and those driven from their homes by war for over 30 years. The first flood of Iraqis arrived in 2008 –some of the two million who fled as the violent insurgencies spiraled out of control. Over 350 “new” displaced families have registered with the OLD over the past three months and even with the coordinated efforts of other local charities, the needs have been overwhelming, reports Grace Boustani OLD’s social worker. Beyond the physical needs, there are the emotional and spiritual ones.
Because of your gifts to The Outreach Foundation, many of these families have just received blankets and food baskets filled with rice, beans, canned meat, oil, sugar, salt, tomato sauce and spaghetti. So many families came to receive these crucial supplies that the small offices of the Our Lady Dispensary proved to be inadequate, so the Syrian Orthodox Church across the street opened its hall for this purpose. The parish priest sat with the Iraqis, carrying their burden for a while as he listened to their stories …
….such as that of Sanaa, who fled Mosul three months ago and is sharing a small house with 18 people including her 18 year-old son who is recovering from wounds received in a bomb attack a year ago. Unable to afford the medicines he still needs, the OLD was able to supply those medicines along with food and blankets for her household. Mrs. Touma has two little daughters, four and seven, who she has been able to place in a local school. But when the day jobs her husband struggled to find proved inadequate, she came to the OLD and left not only with a food basket, but “hygiene kits” which contained “luxuries” like soap, washcloths, band aids and toothpaste/toothbrushes. The most precious gift for both women, it seems, was an intangible one – finding Christian brothers and sisters who understood the trauma they had experienced and could offer them a safe haven during this difficult time.
And when the OLD is not able to provide a service needed for these families or supply the necessary material goods, they try to direct them to other agencies that can help, so that each person who comes through their doors leaves with, well, hope…
In the aftermath of the mass exodus of Christians and other minorities from Mosul and surrounding villages, your generous gifts – totaling $345,000 to date – have strengthened the hand of our partners there by helping them to minister to the displaced persons with food, water, medicine, shelter and spiritual counseling. Our solidarity with the Presbyterians of Iraq has also greatly encouraged them as they are reminded that they are not alone in these difficult circumstances.
The Outreach Foundation will continue to receive gifts in support of our major Iraqi partner – the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Iraq – as well as several other Christian partners in the region. Checks should be noted “Iraq Relief” and mailed to The Outreach Foundation, 381 Riverside Drive Suite 110, Franklin, TN 37064. You may also give online at www.theoutreachfoundation.org by selecting Iraq Appeal under the Designation button.
Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development
$170,500 DISBURSED TO DATE:
Kirkuk Presbyterian Church $86,000
Baghdad Presbyterian Church $36,000
Our Lady Dispensary (Beirut) $17,500
Qamishli (Syria) Presbyterian Church (well for Yazidi refugees) $11,000
Marjaoun (Lebanon) Presbyterian Church (Iraqi refugees relocated from Beirut to South Lebanon) $20,000