March diaper distribution marks start of year two: In March more than $18,000 was transferred to our ministry partner in Iraq to begin year two of the Diapers for Refugees program. The first distribution of 160,000 diapers was conducted last year in March. The cost has remained stable over the last year and our cost for absorbent, high quality diapers made in Turkey is still right at 11 cents each. The same quality diaper purchased in the United States would cost more, and there would be the added shipping costs to Iraq.
The camps having caravans are the best equipped. Each family in Ashti 2 lives in a small caravan shaped like a boxcar except smaller, and sitting on cinder blocks. A standard size mobile home in the United States is 90 feet long and 16 feet wide and 76 feet long. By contrast the largest caravans in the camps fortunate enough to have them are 21 feet long and 9 ft wide, or about 189 sq. ft. for an average family of four. That is not very much space and few families are fortunate enough to have that much.The program services about 300 displaced Christian families who live in official refugee camps such as Ashti 2. The distribution process is extremely orderly. Our ministry partner keeps a record of each family with infants registered at the camp by name, caravan number, number of children, home town, and previous number of diapers received.
As a result, there are cramped conditions in the camps which are extremely densely populated, and therefore the distributions must be done in an orderly way. It is very important that only the families in need of the diapers receive them.
Filling a real need: One of the greatest needs for the women and teenage girls is feminine sanitary pads. As part of the Christmas for Refugees program last December, the family of every child who participated received hygiene materials. In these large, sturdy plastic bags filled with soaps, shampoos, disinfectants, laundry soaps and other supplies, there were feminine sanitary pads. Some of the women visibly cried when they saw what they were getting.
Our Iraqi partner requested funds for a three-month supply for 5,000 displaced Christian women located in several camps. This would have required 15,000 packets at a cost of about $1.00 per packet or $15,000. We just do not have the budget for that need at the current time. As a result, we sent the funds for feminine sanitary pads only to the mothers in the 300 families we are currently supplying with baby diapers.
Most ministries and aid organization focus on food, clothing, housing and items for survival but not those things that make survival under these conditions bearable. The hygiene items also help to prevent outbreaks of disease in the densely crowded refugee camps.
Diaper distributions are scheduled for June, September and December. It is my sincere prayer that the funds for the entire year can be raised and set aside in the next thirty days. Having the funds for the year would allow us to once again concentrate on the Christmas program.
Please continue to pray with me for the Lord to guide us in the best use of our means to help the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.