Internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled areas like the Nineveh plains since 2014 to escape ISIS’ control. Most of the IDPs are Christians and have struggled to rebuild their lives in areas like Erbil. Some Christians have been able to find new work and establish small businesses, like Rabeea and his sweet factory. Unfortunately, many Christians have been left with nothing. ICC has been faithfully working with Christian IDPs to help them start small businesses which gives them hope as they wait to return home.
2017-04-26 Iraq (Sight) – In his new factory, surrounded by sesame seeds, pistachios and sugar, Rabeea dips his spatula into a large vat of honey-coloured syrup. He’s checking its consistency to see if it’s ready for the next step in the production of traditional Iraqi sweets, like sorjuq or halqoum.
“We deliver our products to shops all over the country,” he says. “But most of the sweets go to Suleymaniyah, Zakho and Shaklawa [towns across north-eastern Iraq]. We even have requests from abroad, but for now, with the current situation in our country, that is impossible.”
Rabeea, 38, opened the factory in March to provide a living to families like his own, who sought refuge in Erbil in August 2014 when Islamic State forced many Christians to flee their towns in the Nineveh plains.
Although the Church in Erbil welcomed them as guests, they wanted to earn their own income and be less reliant on aid provided to internally displaced people.
Rabeea is a good choice to manage the factory – he ran a similar one in his home city of Qaraqosh, and his face still lights up when he talks about it, although he describes life in Iraq now as “very difficult”.