Bringing Hope to Iraq Through Chicken Farms
By Hannah Allison
09/02/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Before ISIS invaded in 2014, Qeraqosh was the flourishing agricultural hub of the Nineveh Plains. Qeraqosh farms produced almost a fourth of Iraq’s wheat, and the area was home to a number of chicken farms, which were scattered around the outskirts of the city.
Bassam and his family lived on one of these farms. He followed in his father’s footsteps as a livestock farmer and enjoyed raising animals as his livelihood.
When ISIS invaded Qeraqosh in 2014, Bassam and his family, including his elderly father, were among the thousands of people who fled for their lives. During their displacement, Bassam had a difficult time finding work to support his family and provide the extra care that his father required.
The location of the farms around the perimeter of the city made them strategic points for ISIS’s defense. These farms, which once provided meat for families in the Nineveh Plains, became lookout posts and launch sites for offensive attacks. The invasions and occupation resulted in major damage to most of the farms. When opposing forces attacked ISIS to drive them out of Qeraqosh, the farms became their target as well. By the time ISIS was finally defeated, an estimated 250 farms had been destroyed, and with them more than 33,000 jobs.
When it became safe, Bassam’s family returned to Qeraqosh. The family came home with the hope of re-establishing their former life on the farm. However, they found their home ravaged beyond repair. They quickly learned the extent of the damage ISIS had caused to the farms surrounding the city, including their own, and were faced with the harsh realization that they would not be able to resume their previous life without help.
“ISIS took everything, but also gives us a chance to think about God...During the displacement, I became Christian not only because my parents used to be Christian, but because I came to know Christ.”
In response to this widespread devastation, ICC partnered with Stand With Iraqi Christians and began helping those who faced the devastation of their homes by rebuilding chicken farms for the Christian farmers.
When ICC, in partnership with Stand With Iraqi Christians, stepped in to assist Bassam and his family rebuild their farm, they were overwhelmed with gratitude. They were thankful for Christians across the globe who made the rebuilding of their farm possible.
The displacement, destruction of their farm, and its subsequent re-establishment had a silver lining for Bassam and his family – their faith in Christ was solidified. He told us, “ISIS took everything, but also gives us a chance to think about God. Before ISIS, I never thought of anything but money. During the displacement, I became Christian not only because my parents used to be Christian, but because I came to know Christ.”
In addition to providing a means of livelihood for each family we assisted, each restored farm created 134 jobs for the Qeraqosh community. This provision is helping to revitalize both the economy and the agricultural production of Qeraqosh. The area is slowly recovering from ISIS’s destruction, and re-emerging as the breadbasket of the Nineveh Plains.
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