Eye to eye

The past week and a half I’ve been working in Iraq with the team here on the financial side of things. During one of the days I went along on an assessment trip to some villages, where I met a Yezidi boy. Attached, please find the story, in Dutch and English (second page). It is at moments like that, you realize how big the need is of the people that we are able to serve. And how big the privilege is that we can do that. Let’s continue to pray our good Lord that we will be able to reach many more people and touch their lives with the practical love of our Lord Jesus Christ!

‘All of a sudden I’m eye to eye with a young Yezidi, who has been cornered on mount Sinjar by the militants of Islamic State. He is 18 years old, skinny as a bone, completely penniless, lives in a terribly dilapidated house with his big family, but with a mobile phone in his jogging pants. He talks to us willingly, but his gaze looks into the distance, as if he looks past us and is seeing different things.

We are on our way with a Dorcas team in the villages in the wide area around Duhok in Northern Iraq, where the Kurdish regional government has power. There are masses of IDP’s, internally displaced people which refugees in their own country, and refugees from Syria. Most of them are totally needy, live in tiny mobile homes, unfinished buildings or in small, patched up houses. We are executing an assessment, to find out where the need is greatest and what we can do about it.

We meet many people that have fled Mosul, when the city has been taken by IS in June 2014. I have never known that Mosul is the same city as Nineveh, the city where the Biblical prophet Jonah was sent too. Other people come from the plaines of Ninevah, which also point to Nineveh. They are all needy, they have nothing and live in dehumanizing circumstances. Their biggest crime: they are not fanatic, Sunnite Muslims, but Christian, Yezidi, or a different brand of Muslim. That is enough to have your head chopped off.

That’s how we end up with the Yezidi boy. The small house lies in the middle of an open field, where the sweltering sun bakes the ground. In front of the house, some efforts are made to start a vegetable patch. The family is visiting another Yezidi family in the village and he is home alone. The Iraqi Dorcas colleagues strike up a conversation with him and he doesn’t mind to tell us about his story.

Yes, he was also stuck at mount Sinjar. With how many people? Something like 70.000 families. My colleague whispers in my ear that there are some 7 or 8 people in a family, so altogether some 400.000 will have been stuck on the mountain. How it was like? We were all very close to death. It was terrifying. How we got water? There were two little creeks on the mountain that were barely enough to not let us die, but there was hardly anything to eat, week in, week out.
“When we fled from our village to the mountain, I was in my third  year of high school. I was studying civil engineer, because I wanted to become an engineer. But that dream has gone.” I ask the question that I have wanted to ask many times before to refugees I met: “You are young, only 18 years old; how do you look at the future?” He shrugs his shoulders and again the look in the distance, right past us. “There is no future for me here in Iraq.” The words speak his pain. But at the same time there is this resignation that he knows that Yezidi’s will be screwed everywhere and always.

His words land with me heavily. At night in my comfortable bed, they still ring in my heart. His words communicate the pain of millions of refugees and IDP’s in the Middle East, that have fled to save their lives. They have one huge problem: they have no future. They cannot and are not allowed to work. They have come to a strange place, where they are not really welcome. They don’t have a penny on them. They are not welcome in fort Europe or in comfortable North America. We are ‘fully occupied’, in more than one way.

When the streams of refugees dry up, we as Dorcas and other NGO’s will have to focus on this: to give these people a future again. Take matters in their own hands again. Trust in the abilities that God has given them. To stand in the gap for them.

I don’t want to accept that there is no future for this young Yezidi. Dorcas does not want to accept that. You don’t either?’

Nico Hoogenraad
Dorcas director


31 August 2015

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