The Diaper Ministry: The Christians of the Nineveh Plain call us the “Diaper Ministry” and often tell our associates in Iraq what a blessing the gift of diapers is.
I first visited the town of Qaraqosh shortly after it was liberated from the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2016. The battle for Mosul was still ongoing and the front line was close enough for me to hear artillery fire. A Shia militia was using the Christian town as a staging area before moving to the front lines to fight along with the Iraqi Army against the Sunni Muslim Islamic State which still held Mosul.
No civilians had returned, and the only Christians present were members of the Nineveh Plain Protection Unit (NPU) which is a Christian militia that fought with the Shia Muslims to liberate the area. I met some of these Christians when I led a convoy of three trucks and vans to Qaraqosh to take food and water to the NPU, as they had been isolated by the Kurds.
Our convoy was initially blocked by the Kurdish Peshmerga, who are viewed in the United States as the great heroes of Iraq. In reality, the Kurds were attempting to cut out a piece of Iraq for their own nation and wanted to take most of the Nineveh Plain for that purpose.
The Kurds are not America’s helpers in Iraq; they are helping themselves with American funds and arms. I wrote a column when I returned to the United States about the Kurds stopping our convey from reaching Qaraqosh. It was entitled “Iraqi Palace of Mirrors” and was widely published. It can still be found at WND.COM and other news outlets.
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Since my first visit, I have returned to Qaraqosh several times most often to watch the delivery of diapers to the families who have moved back. The real name of the town is Baghdadi. Baghdadi was the Assyrian name before it was renamed by Muslim Arabs after their expansion out of what is now Saudi Arabia.
This photo of a business looted and burned out in Qaraqosh was taken by me in December 2016. While I was there, a Shia militia drove through town on their way to fight in Mosul, which was held by ISIS.
As far as the Christians who live there are concerned, the name of the town is still Baghdadi. In June of this year, when I visited Baghdadi I was given a shirt with the ancient name of the town on it.
The entire Nineveh Plain region was Assyrian Christian before the invasion by Muslims. It pretty much remained Christian despite persecution by Arabs and Kurds — until the American intervention in Iraq. Since that time, most Christians have been forced out. There were two million Christians in Iraq when the United States invaded in 2003. Today there are only about 200,000 Christians left and most of those would escape if they could.
The few Christians who remain need our help. The Christians of the Nineveh Plain are returning to homes that at best have been looted and at worst completely destroyed. “The diaper ministry,” as we are called there, brings some sunshine to the bleak existence in the devastated towns of the Nineveh Plain. There is no cable TV, no high-speed Internet. There is not even any water pressure. Worse, the well water is as salty as the sea and drinking water must be trucked in. What water is available is too valuable to wash clothing with.
The Christians returning to the towns of the Nineveh Plain find few jobs and have the great expense of rebuilding their lives. Those with babies and toddlers cannot wash cloth diapers because of the water situation. All power is still only by generators as power lines are not up yet. The cost of disposable diapers is a real burden but one that keeps infants free of severe diaper rash infections. Our program removes that burden form these desperate families.
Our Diapers for Refugees program will distribute 500,000 diapers during September, October and November thanks to the generous gifts of the supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition. The mothers of each of those children also receive feminine sanitary pads for themselves.
We don’t stop there. We also distribute adult diapers for elderly and handicapped who have special needs. We transferred the funds for the September purchase of high-quality diapers made in Turkey and the diapers have been delivered to our associate ministry’s warehouse in Erbil and to a distribution facility in Qaraqosh (Baghdadi).
We require the official government ID of the infant or toddler to make sure diapers are used by those in need.
The families are in great need and we work to make sure those in the greatest need are assisted. We work with pastors and priests of all denominations to obtain lists of those in the church who require diapers. Although the volunteers work off those lists to help distribute the diapers, we still require the ID of both the parent and the infant to make sure the diapers go to help those most in need.
Our commitment to the Diapers for Refugees program in Iraq calls for a December distribution of an additional 500,000 diapers, along with sanitary pads and special needs adult diapers. We are very close to achieving that goal at the same time we are ramping up for the Christmas programs in five nations including Syria.
Please pray that whatever funds may still be needed for the Diapers for Refugees program will be raised quickly, allowing us to concentrate on providing Christmas events for thousands of displaced Middle East Christians. Please pray for the children and their parents, that their lives can reach some kind of peace in the middle of the chaos of the Middle East.
Our ministry partner in Jordan has called me several times, pleading for the Diapers for Refugees program to help Christians families there. The small pilot program he envisions would cost only $7,500, but I will not make a commitment until I am sure that every dime needed for the program in Iraq is available. The commitment in Iraq was made for four distributions in 2018, and that promise must be kept.
If current price of diapers stays the same we will distribute 500,000 again in December!
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