Reclaiming the Nineveh Plains: Part 3

Finding a New Lease on Life

08/08/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – This week marks the four-year anniversary of when Christians fled their homes in search of refuge from ISIS militants who attacked the Nineveh Plains. It is a somber anniversary, as many towns in the Nineveh Plains remain mostly abandoned. Even so, there is still good news. In the city of Qaraqosh, it is estimated that nearly half of the displaced Christians have returned and are attempting to rebuild their lives.

Earlier this year, ICC traveled to Qaraqosh to learn more about the needs of those who have returned. It was here that we met an experienced farmer facing a very particular type of challenge. He introduced himself, “I am Milad from Qaraqosh. We (my family) lived as IDPs for many years… and when I came back, I found out ISIS had dug tunnels inside my farm and filled my halls (barn) with dirt.”

Milad is no stranger to rebuilding his life, as this was the third time he had been displaced (read Part 1 to learn more). But learning how to manage life when his livelihood was destroyed by an ISIS tunnel was a whole new challenge. The tunnel on his property was filled with ISIS paraphernalia, effectively preventing him from restarting his farm. ICC decided to help him change that.

Over the course of the summer, ICC hired the labor and equipment necessary to remove the massive tunnel from Milad’s property. It was a long process (read Part 2), which involved collapsing the tunnel and refilling it with the dirt ISIS left behind inside Milad’s barn. “You will see the dirt is two meters high (depth) and the length of the hall is 35 meters. It is a huge amount of dirt,” said Milad.

The tunnel was fully refilled by mid-July, leaving the ground ready for planting and watering. But ICC did more than just remove the paraphernalia of ISIS from Milad’s property. We purchased a well pump to replace the one ISIS damaged when they abandoned his property. This allows him to hand-water some of his crops while ICC restores the irrigation system that will reach further into his field. As a result, Milad has not only restored his land, but has also been given the ability to again provide for his family’s financial needs.

Milad is very grateful that ICC has helped him reestablish his farm. He said, “I want to thank ICC for helping me. I thank everyone who belongs to ICC who stood with me. Also, I wanted to say that I am committed to staying on my homeland.”

Thanks to ICC’s support, Milad’s life is returning to the way it was before ISIS invaded. With his land and barn now ready for farming, he is able to provide for his family once again. “I will be thankful forever,” said Milad.

Always a visionary, Milad continues to work hard on his farm. During a recent visit, he proudly showed ICC his farm’s transformation now that the tunnel has been removed and irrigation provided. “I (have) planted here different types of greens… here, I have planted olive trees,” he pointed out to ICC’s representative. The future now holds many possibilities for Milad, who wants to someday begin raising livestock again, once the agriculture part of his farm begins providing him a profit. By standing with Milad, ICC continues to help displaced Christians rebuild their lives after ISIS attempted to erase them from Iraq.

For interviews with Claire Evans, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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