IRAQI KURDISTAN UPDATE: April 2015

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CPTnet
21 May 2015
IRAQI KURDISTAN UPDATE: April 2015

 

 

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Iraqi Kurdistan

Accompaniment in Kani Shaya

On April 27th, CPT accompanied farmers of Kani Shaya, a village in the Bazian area, to a meeting with a representative of the company which is constructing a new cement factory on agricultural land. Some farmers of the community signed contracts with the company and sold their land. However, the monstrous construction also affects the adjacent fields, whose owners have not received anything. In the presence of CPT the company representative promised that after the construction is finished and the company begins earning money from the cement, the farmers will be compensated. In the meantime, the company expressed that they might be willing to meet the request of the farmers to provide electricity to some of their houses that they use while working on their fields.

Visit to Yazidi leader in Arbat Camp

On the 3rd April the team met with Shekh Shamu, a Ezidi (Yazidi) community leader at Arbat Camp. He told CPT of the hardships he and his people face being the religious and ethnic minority also among the displaced persons in the Arbat camp.

The Children’s Project

As part of the Children’s Project two CPTers carried out a workshop at the REACH Community Centre in Bainjan. The workshop involved cooperation games and team building activities as well as a lot of fun. 

Easter Reflection

 

On Easter Sunday the team awoke at 4:00am to travel to the Chaldean Monastery for an Easter Sunrise Service. When we arrived we went through the usual routine of passing through the security detail, having our bags hand searched and being patted down for weapons. (Men only, since there were no women assigned to the detail.) Stepping across the threshold into the courtyard of the monastery we noticed that it was very quiet. A few people were awake but the day had not yet started.  It would be a work day for most, since Easter and Sundays are not holidays or days off in Kurdistan.

When I first came to the monastery several years ago it was a place for quiet reflection and meditation, a retreat center staffed by two priests and one sister. Now it is a refugee center for the IDPs—internally displaced persons—from Mosul, Qaraqosh and other Christian communities from Iraq and Syria. As the time of the service approached, the people living in the monastery, Christian Kurds and internationals, began to file in and the service, led by Father Jens, began. The service was in Arabic and English, one part, like the Apostle’s Creed, read in Arabic, the blessing for Host in English, then the wine, in Arabic. One of the more powerful points during the worship came when the Christians in the church prayed for God to forgive Al-Bagdadi, ISIS, Al-Shabaab and finally those who most recently massacred Christians in Kenya.  As I stood there I realized I still have much to learn about forgiveness.  My heart is still hardened by revenge after spending time in the camps hearing the stories of the Yazidis. How could the people in that church who have suffered so much and lost everything they owned ask God to forgive those who have committed such horror against them? Perhaps I should open my ears and heart to the story of Jesus’ passion and learn the lesson of Easter?  Standing shoulder to shoulder with the Christians of Iraq has taught me much about the road I still have yet to travel.

Non-violence Workshops

In the past month, CPT has continued with non-violence workshops in local high schools, wrapping up the school year.  Few things are as touching as seeing the transforming power of non-violence on the faces of people who realize it’s essence and potential.  We look forward to continuing these workshops in the new school year.

Co-facilitating the Bazian Psychosocial Program

REACH (Rehabilitation, Education and Community Health), a local NGO, started an eight week psychosocial project with children and youth at the Bazian Community Centre. 

Two REACH members have partnered with CPT to create an experiential learning program that focuses on communication, team building, and trust within the multi-cultural group of participants. The eight week project will work with two groups: the first with children aged 11 to 14 and the second with young people aged 15 to 18. 

The first day went very well with children and young people working together to build their ideal house out of cardboard. They reflected on what it meant to work together and things were required, such as good listening, to work together well as a team. Although the program explores new – and sometimes uncomfortable – concepts, they all participated and enjoyed it. 

It will be exciting to journey with this group over the next eight weeks, learning from and supporting one another. 

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