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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_single_image image=”109010″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]07/16/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Two brown and two black bulls meander aimlessly around a grassy enclosure on the plains of Qeraqosh. Behind them stands Paulis, an Iraqi farmer, smiling. He and the bulls are surrounded by large stacks of grey cinderblocks numbering in the hundreds. The uneven walls give the impression of instability, but stand strong as Paulis leans against one and wipes the sweat from his brow. His eyes surveyed an estimated six acres of farmland. Destroyed by ISIS in 2014, the farm is now thriving because of Paulis’ hard work.

Though an elderly man, Paulis’ primary occupation is that of a day laborer. His education was limited, and the only way which ensured Paulis could afford his five children’s education was through farming. He raised bulls for meat as well as some vegetables. However, when his family was displaced by ISIS, this secondary source of income was removed.

Limited options forced Paulis’ return to Qeraqosh after liberation from ISIS. He continued working as a day laborer and restarted his vegetable patch. But without the bulls, Paulis could not afford the education of his three school-aged children. He withdrew his daughter, and considered withdrawing his two sons.

Paulis knew that the only solution was to restart his cattle farm, but he had no shelter for the bulls and no vehicle to haul building materials to the farm. All Paulis had was an orange bicycle. Nearly every day, he peddled through Qeraqosh, combing the city for loose cinderblocks that survived the destruction left behind by ISIS. Whatever he found was placed in a small makeshift basket on the back of his bike. Back and forth Paulis peddled, searching for the cinderblocks and peddling them back to his farm.

“I have an area that I worked hard to prepare. I have collected bricks from here and there and took them on my bicycle to the farm just to build a room where I could raise bulls. Now I have two rooms in my farm, one will be for the bulls and the other will be for fodder and other things,” Paulis explained, proud of his accomplishment.

International Christian Concern was impressed by Paulis’ hard work and diligence that empowered him to rebuild his barn. After visiting with Paulis and seeing how well built the barns were, ICC agreed to purchase Paulis three bulls, which would provide the income necessary for the next school year. However, the bull seller was more than gracious, and sold Paulis four bulls at a discounted rate. The cattle have grown quickly as a result of Paulis’ continued diligence.

The bulls have provided an opportunity to transform Paulis’ life. His vegetable patch is now part of a fully restored farm, with cattle growing and thriving. It took years for Paulis to develop such a farm before ISIS invaded, but the militants destroyed it overnight. With the farm now restored, Paulis can keep his children in school and provide a steady income for his family. Such an opportunity is considered beyond reach for many Iraqi Christians who lost everything during their displacement.

“You helped me with the bulls and also my neighbor helped me with the fodder for the first day. The same neighbor has more experience than me and he will be helping me on raising them in addition to (the vet),” Paulis said.

Each time ICC visits Paulis’ farm, there is amazement at his energy despite his age. He is always picking the lettuce, showing off his healthy bulls, and riding his bike. The farm takes a massive amount of work, but Paulis is determined. Looking toward the future, Paulis asks, “Pray for my health to keep doing good so I can work and support my family.” Paulis intends to continue working hard to support his family and, by God’s grace, despite everything that has happened, his children will receive a quality education.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1563290853217{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

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