By Amy Penn
12/29/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Like most Christians, Mahir and his family fled their home in Qaraqosh when ISIS invaded on August 6, 2014. They left behind everything, including Mahir’s small business, a car repair shop. For the past three years, Mahir and his family have searched for a place to live while waiting for ISIS to leave Qaraqosh. When Iraqi forces finally drove ISIS out in 2017, Mahir and his family wanted to go home, but there was nothing to return home to – their home and business were gone.
Since their return, they have been living where the garage used to stand, but they cannot rebuild. The start-up costs for an auto repair shop are expensive and unattainable for displaced people. When International Christian Concern (ICC) heard about Mahir and his family, including six-year-old Fadi and five-year-old Malak, they began devising a way to get Mahir back to work and help the community as a whole.
Restarting the garage made the most sense. Mahir was already a skilled repairman, had established a clientele before he left, understood how to operate a small business, and Christians returning to Qaraqosh would need their vehicles maintained to operate their own businesses.
Shortly after planning the business, ICC’s local representatives were able to implement the project with Mahir. They visited Erbil to purchase the necessary supplies, including a wheel balance tool, tire repair machine, hydraulic lift, air compressor, drill, cutter, and other miscellaneous tools. After taking the equipment back to Mahir’s business, ICC was able to talk to Mahir about returning home, his business, and outlook for him and his family’s future.
“Working in Qaraqosh is something like a dream for me, I never thought that one day we will be back,” Mahir excitedly told ICC.
ICC also learned about Uday and his family. After fleeing from ISIS in 2014, they stayed in tents and moved around until they found free shelter several years ago. Like many other Christians, including Mahir, Uday eventually returned home and struggled to restart his business. He used to clean houses and install decorative elements like tiles.
ICC was able to purchase the necessary equipment like a high-pressure water pump, drills, cutters, generators, a welding machine, wire, painting equipment, and other miscellaneous tools. With these tools, Uday can provide for his family while also helping other Christians repair and clean their homes that ISIS devastated.
Both Uday and Mahir requested prayer for the return of Christians to Qaraqosh and continued safety. Even before ISIS, Christians experienced discrimination and harassment. Christians hope that they will be able to experience some safety in the aftermath of ISIS.