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In 2014, ISIS captured Iraq’s largest Christian city, Qeraqosh. Their arrival forced Christian families to leave behind their homes, jobs, and the tools necessary for their livelihoods.

Hakim, Amira, and Ahmed head three of the Christian families who fled Qeraqosh to avoid ISIS’s brutal persecution. Although they safely relocated to Erbil, Iraq, they did not have the funds or resources to restart their businesses, so they struggled to survive.

Before the attack, Hakim operated an aluminum shop, Amira ran a beauty shop, and Ahmed owned a bakery in Qeraqosh. All of these businesses have expensive start-up costs that Hakim, Amira, and Ahmed could not afford in Erbil. To circumvent the expense of buying new equipment, they tried to find alternative solutions to rebuild their small business. Hakim, for example, tried to rent the drills, generators, and other tools so he could find work, but his income barely covered the steep rental expenses. “It was hard to rent tools whenever I was in need,” Hakim confessed, “Also I wasn’t able to rent a shop because I didn’t own the tools.”   

In addition, some tools, like Ahmed’s industrial whisk for a bakery, were difficult to find. Without networks of contacts to locate equipment, Ahmed, Amira, and Hakim could not have purchased their tools even if they had the money. These families needed partners who could provide a financial and logistical hand.

International Christian Concern (ICC) worked with these families and local leaders to create a solution. In June 2016, ICC provided the funds to purchase the necessary equipment, while also helping the families set up the store locations for their small businesses. Additionally, local leaders pooled their knowledge and found dealers who sold hard-to-find tools, like the industrial whisk. With the funds and logistical support, Ahmed, Amira, and Hakim are now small business owners who can feed their parents, children, and spouses, save money for other necessities, and develop relationships with their new neighbors.

All of the families were overwhelmed by God’s provision through ICC.  Hakim recognized that “even with all [that] we went through, God used this to lead us to come to know good people like you and your organization.”  Ahmed echoed Hakim’s sentiment, “Your organization [ICC] did not know me, but you decided to help me. It’s really a blessing to come to know kind people.” He even debuted his new equipment by baking a special thank-you cake for ICC.

In addition to the financial resources her small business provides, Amira sees her salon as a means to connect people together in a time when war is tearing them apart. She acknowledged that this “project will help me also to stay connected with people. I found a source of income through the project and also a way to spend time with women because I am lonely widow.”

Challenges still remain for these families. Hakim notes, “I am starting my business from the bottom. Erbil is unlike Qeraqosh, I used to have good reputation in Qeraqosh and people trusted me there. I have to build the same trust here.” Other needs relate to these families’ health. Ahmed has had one kidney since birth and requests that “God give me strength to work to support my family and my four children.” As a widow, Amira seeks relationships with her neighbors to avoid loneliness but still asks people to “please pray that we can go back home soon.”

ICC looks forward to continuing to provide for tens of thousands of displaced Christians in Iraq through the Community Rebuild fund. Please remember ICC’s work in Iraq in your prayers in the coming weeks and months.

























For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator:[email protected]