26 November 2014

Update, Dominican Sisters of Iraq

Iraqi Dominican sisters in a happier time (2013)
Sisters in Happier Days, 2013

Dear all,
After four months of exile there are no signs of hope that the situation here in Iraq will be resolved peacefully.  Unable to think or make decisions, everything is vague and we feel as if we have been living a nightmare.  Christianity in Iraq is bleeding; so many families have left, and many are leaving to Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, preparing themselves for second immigration and an uncertain future.  We know not how long these families will be able to tolerate the burden and survive financially. 

The conditions remain the same for those of us in Iraq.  Many still are forced to stay in unfinished buildings on construction sites. In one place, a mall has been remodeled to accommodate families, with the hall divided merely with partitions. Although they are better than tents, they resemble dark, damp cages with no ventilation.   Most difficult of all is the lack of privacy.
There have been some attempts to provide containers and rent houses and flats, but this is not enough as the number of displaced people increases each day.  Many come from cold mountainous places. Psychologically, people are tired, worried, confused, and irritated –who would blame them? They are jobless, their children do not attend school, and young people are still waiting to start their academic year at the university –some tried to register at Kurdish Universities, but they were not accepted. All this is causing tremendous strain on the families, and the result is abuse and relationships that are unhealthy.  The problems are totally overwhelming, and it seems as if our efforts are amounting to nothing.

People have been stripped of their dignity and unjustly deprived of all their money and possessions. What money people do have cannot be withdrawn from banks as the central government has frozen their accounts. Moreover, some people desperately look for work, ready to labour for minimum wage.

Despite this, things would be much worse if it were not for the aide we have received from you and the many benefactors who have contributed what they can.

Thank you. Indeed, we are so grateful to you, and we have tried to help as many people as we can with these donations. Our focus has not been on the refugee centers and camps, as refugees at these centers are supported by the organization and the church. Rather we are trying to help those families who rent houses, but cannot support themselves. So we help them by providing bedding and clothing.

As for our community, we are extremely exhausted with concern for the family and friends we have who are unjustly forced to leave us.  Everyday we hope that tomorrow will be better, but our tomorrows seem to bring only more tears and hardship. Out of the depths we cry to Thee, Oh Lord!  When will you rescue us!

We desperately count on your prayers, and we need you carry us to Jesus like the men who brought the paralytic to Jesus.

God bless you,
Of St. Catherine of Siena –Iraq.