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.

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

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