The Coronavirus pandemic has created both physical and financial barriers to our programs to help persecuted Christians.
In my work to serve the victims of radical Islam, the need is so great, and my time and resources are stretched so thin that it can be easy to get discouraged.
Restrictions caused by the Coronavirus have been even more discouraging.
For the last two months our ministry partners in Iraq have been unable to deliver adult diapers to those who have a critical need, including some elderly and those wounded during Islamic State attacks who cannot leave their homes.
The lock-down in Iraq may be over soon and I am concerned that the backlog of need will be far greater than we are able to fill.
With few stores having been able to open in the Nineveh Plain after the brutality of occupation by the Islamic State, there are few places available to purchase even basic needs.
My heart aches for those in whose homes I have been, those whom I have prayed with and promised aid to. One I am concerned about is Intesar. I told you about her in a newsletter last year.
Intesar was just 38 years old when I met her. She is a paralyzed mother of two who receives adult diapers from Diapers for Refugees.
She told me her story:
“In 2005 I went to a clinic at Mosul to receive a treatment…unfortunately, when I finished my visit and was on the way to my home village (Qaraqosh), I was shot by an unknown gunman during confrontations between U.S. military troops and terrorists. This shot has changed me from being a normal woman to a paralyzed woman.”
Intesar stopped talking for a while as her eyes filled with tears while she described the crisis she had gone through.
When asked about her living conditions when ISIS occupied Qaraqosh, she replied:
“In August 2014 ISIS started to attack Qaraqosh with mortar fire, some people were killed, and then everyone started to escape from there seeking refuge in Erbil. It was so crowded, tragic to see such view.”
“We left everything behind and went to an unknown future, after waiting for so long in the main checkpoint of Erbil. We finally managed to get in the city, at that time we were sleeping in the streets and gardens. It was so hard for us. Now, we rent a small house because ISIS burned our entire house after collecting our furniture and putting it in the middle of the house to ensure that the fire would increase faster and destroy the house totally. They destroyed all our beautiful memories with it.”
“We don’t have adequate money to rebuild our house. My husband is just a daily worker and we lost all our belongings and savings during the war with ISIS. So many of us are fighting just to live,” she said.
“These helpful diapers are one of my much-needed items that will help me survive. Your team is doing an effective role in presenting services that the government cannot or does not provide for disabled people with their families. You indicate that you do love me through your visit. God bless you all for your faithful loving service to our Lord.”
Stories like Intesar’s tell me why Diapers for Refugees should continue the adult diaper program and expand it, even at a cost of 50 cents each in Iraq.
There is no Medicare or Medicaid in Iraq, and there is no social security for the elderly. Many older Iraqis whose sons were killed by the Islamic State now have no one to support them. They must seek out charity for their needs.
Many of the injured such as Intesar do not have even the shell of their former home left, and now must live in smaller rentals that often also have been damaged by the terrorists of the Islamic State who occupied their towns.
Other Christian Iraqis, including young families with babies and toddlers, have returned to their ancestral homes on the Nineveh Plain.
They have returned to looted and destroyed homes, often without clean running water and with few job opportunities.
My friend, our ministry is blessed to have the opportunity to make a very real impact on Christians who have suffered loss and humiliation.
This is why I have prayed daily through the Coronavirus emergency that the Religious Freedom Coalition would be able to continue to provide diapers every month.
Not just to the disabled elderly, but directly to the babies and toddlers of Christian mothers in the Nineveh Plain of Iraq who have suffered so at the hands of Islamic terror.
Two million diapers in 2019: In September the Lord provided the funds through ministry supporters to purchase a four-month supply of diapers instead of three months. The purchase was a real blessing because it relieved the burden of buying and shipping diapers the same month as the Christmas programs in Iraq.
In total, over two million diapers were purchased for distribution in Iraq. Diapers are purchased in bulk four times a year. All diapers are not distributed when shipments are accepted.
We maintain large seagoing containers which we use to warehouse the diapers. Containers are in Ankawa, which is near Erbil, and also at a facility in Qaraqosh. The real name of Qaraqosh, from the time it was an Assyrian Christian town, was Baghdadi. The name was changed when it was overrun by Muslims centuries ago.
I often refer to “two million diapers” but in reality, we buy and distribute many more. The Religious Freedom Coalition is furnishing tens of thousands of adult diapers for special needs. We also supply feminine pads to the mothers of the infants and toddlers.
On the Nineveh Plain, the people have given us the nickname of the Diaper Ministry!
Diapers for Jordan: The Diapers for Refugees program was expanded to Jordan in December of 2018. The majority of diaper recipients in Jordan are special needs Iraqi and Syrian refugees. There are over two million refugees in Jordan with 1.4 million of those “unregistered.” For the most part the Christians, for obvious reasons, are not registered.
No diapers this December: As mentioned in a recent newsletter, the Diapers for Refugees program has changed the dates we buy diapers making December a lot easier to manage financially.
In September we were able to buy diapers for four months by setting up the next purchase date in January instead of December. That is good news … But we still need $28,000 to buy a three-month supply of diapers in January.
Please pray that provision will be made not only for the shipment of diapers in January but for all of 2020 as well. There is a huge need for adult special needs diapers for the elderly and those with severe disabilities. Please pray for all those we assist in Iraq and other nations with the Diapers for Refugees program.
Why so many? Why is there such a horrific need for adult special needs diapers in Iraq?
One of the reasons for the need is physical injuries suffered during 18 years of continuous war in Iraq.
I have previously I told the story of Intesar (38), a paralyzed mother of two who receives adult diapers from our Diapers for Refugees program. She was paralyzed when hit by crossfire between American troops and Islamic State terrorists.
But cases like hers do not explain the large number of young people born with neurological disorders and other issues the last 10 to 15 years that cause them to need diapers the rest of their lives.
I am beginning to understand the cause and it is not going to go away.
Many of those born with neurological problems have high levels of uranium and thorium in their bodies. Some close to American bases have radiation levels in their teeth 28 times greater than normal. A lot of the ammunition we used in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan was made out of depleted uranium.
“Depleted” sounds safe, but there is no such thing as uranium that is not radioactive. Even the raw ore coming from the ground is radioactive.
But there is a bigger issue. Chemically, uranium causes the same problems that lead does.
Uranium mines are not safe and mining companies take steps to protect workers. Safeguards are mandated by the Federal government. The state of Virginia has the largest reserves of uranium in the nation and will not allow mining because of the dangers.
A mining association report says thaturanium ore “…has chemical toxicity similar to lead, so occupational hygiene precautions are taken similar to those in a lead smelter.”
In other words, the uranium can cause the same neurological damage as lead even if it was not radioactive, which it is. Yes, it is a small amount of radiation. The problem is the length of exposure. Children near American bases and in areas where there was heavy combat are showing the signs of neurological damage.
I am not judging the kind of ammunition our military forces use in Iraq or elsewhere. I am no expert on what is effective. All I know is that we need a lot more diapers for special needs children.
In the middle of preparations for the Christmas for Refugees program I can’t work on the special needs’ diapers program … but I promise you I will beginning in January. This problem is not going to go away.
There are many elderly who did not receive proper medical care during the last two decades who now require diapers. There are many middle-age and young who were injured in bombings and shot by the Islamic State. Then there are the younger ones that break my heart because they will never have normal lives.
The suffering of these younger Iraqi Christians is not abstract for me. My wife Nancy and I have been in their homes. We have prayed with them and we have promised them help. I intend, with the help of the Lord, to keep my promise to them.
The Diapers for Refugees program we operate in the Nineveh Plain is an essential program that no other organization offers. We are also the only organization furnishing sanitary napkins to women in that area.
The adult diapers, not only for the elderly but for younger people with special needs, can literally change lives. I have mentioned before about being in the homes of some in need of adult diapers, talking and praying with them.
Iraq has literally been in a state of war since 2003. By the
official end of the war in 2011, 4,497 American service personnel had died and
26,050 were wounded. Estimates are that more than 600,000 Iraqi civilians have
died — and that does not include those murdered by the Islamic State (ISIS). The Christian population of Iraq
has been reduced by 83%.
The destruction of hospitals by all sides and the number of doctors who have fled, has caused a drastic rise in the number of children born with severe disabilities. I have visited with some of these children and their families, and prayed for many of them.
Now there is a new crisis on the Nineveh Plain, as Syrian families with elderly parents or special needs children cross over into this area of Iraq. As of now we are reaching only a small percentage of the Syrian Christian refugees who need help.
To expand the diaper program to the Syrian refugees in the Nineveh Plain would cost an additional $5,000 a month. We cannot make that commitment now.
For now, we must get through 2019. Please pray this month for the success of the diaper program this year.
Diapers often increase the overall quality of life for elderly and special needs Christian refugees.
Special needs adult diapers: I received the first request for adult diapers in 2018. Our team had been so centered on the babies and toddlers and their needs that the idea of adult diapers had never been considered.
I did not think there would be a big demand for the adult diapers. I was wrong!
The percentage of older adults with special needs for diapers is far higher than in the United States because of the lack of medical care during war time. Infections that could have been cured caused damage that could never be undone.
Until I talked to some of those receiving the adult diapers, I did not understand how much lives were changed for the better by them. In many cases it is a matter of being able to sleep through the night. There were tears in the eyes of one man who told me how his life was changed by having the diapers. He told me he could sleep on a mattress for the first time in years!
The budget for the adult diapers just keeps growing and we are not even dealing with a large population. We are only supplying the needs of the Christian community on the Nineveh Plain. Our entire operation in Iraq is within 200 square miles. Our ministry partners in Jordan have been asking for assistance with the adult diapers as well. Again, the problems were mostly caused by lack of medical care. In Jordan the medical care was not available because of money. All the Iraqi and Syrian Christians are there illegally as refugees, and are not allowed to work. Most of those have no homes to go back to.
I do not want this ministry in the situation where we are able to do something one time and then never again. Promises should not be made if they that cannot be kept. We have been able to begin a small Diapers for Refugees program in Jordan targeting mostly elderly with special needs. The budget for 2019 is set, but we will try to do more in 2020.
While many Christian refugee families are unable to fully provide for their children, the government and other global organizations do not provide support.
Babies still need diapers: It is just not right to ask a young married couple to not have children because they are refugees through no fault of their own, but that is exactly what the United Nations and USAID expects. The United Nations, USAID and the EU hand out condoms and birth control pills.
If the young families are expected to hold off having children until the society in Iraq and Syria is back to “normal” economically, then they will never have children. It will take Iraq at least 50 years to recover from the 2003 invasion; the uprising against the US occupation and then the war with the Islamic State.
Although it is no longer in the news, there is still fighting going on in Iraq. There are still pockets of the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.
Rayan xxxxxxxxxxxxxx(36) is a displaced Christian father of a one-year old daughter named Rebeca. He has been displaced from Bartella with his family since 2014 due to ISIS taking over their home, causing them to flee and take refuge in the city of Erbil. Rayan was one of the first people to return back home because of his love for his own village and his grandparents land. When he returned to see if his house was still livable, he was shocked to see the house totally burned into rubble. When asked about his living situation and his job, he smiled and said, “I work as an electrical employee. Some days I get payments, and some days I do not. Most people don’t have enough funds to rebuild their houses. If relatives and neighbors call me to help them in fixing electrical cables in their houses, I will get money on those days. Otherwise, I am still without money and I sometimes can’t feed my family. The wages don’t exceed $8 per day for 8 hours of working, which covers just a part of living costs for my family. We are dependent on your regular distribution of diapers and it greatly helps us as a family in saving some money to put towards our living situation. Actually, my wife was concerned two days ago because we used our last diaper and we do not have money to buy a new sack, but I told her I trust in our Lord that he will send your team to deliver diapers. I would have had to buy diapers instead of rice if there was any delay. Praise the Lord your team came at the same day. It is very encouraging what the Lord is doing to stand alongside us. Unfortunately, we are feeling like strangers in our home village due to the persecution we had faced by ISIS. Now, most of the citizens in Bartella are from Muslim background and many Christian citizens immigrated to foreign countries”.
Intesar xxxxxxxxxxxxxx (38), is a paralyzed mother of two and is currently among the many displaced Christians from Qaraqosh, this is her story.
“In 2005 I went to clinic at Mosul to receive a treatment …unfortunately, when I finished my visit and was on the way to my home village (Qaraqosh), I was shot by an unknown gunman during confrontations between US military troops and terrorists. This shot has changed me from being a normal woman to a paralyzed woman.” Intesar stops talking for a while as her eyes fill with tears while she describes the crisis that she was going through. When asked about her living conditions when ISIS occupied Qaraqosh, she replied “we were forced to flee away from Qaraqosh and were displaced from it in June 2014, at that time we went to Erbil. Then in August 2014 ISIS started to attack Qaraqosh with mortar fire, some people were killed, and then everyone started to escape from there seeking refuge in Erbil. It was so crowded, tragic to see such view. We left everything behind and went to an unknown future, after waiting for so long in the main checkpoint of Erbil. We finally managed to get in the city, at that time we were sleeping in the streets and gardens. It was so hard for us. Now, we rent a small house because ISIS burned our entire house after collecting our furniture and putting it in the middle of the house to ensure that the fire would increase rapidly and destroy the house totally. They destroyed all our beautiful memories with it. We don’t have adequate money to rebuild our house. My husband is just a daily worker and we lost all our belongings and savings during the war with ISIS. So many of us are fighting just to live. These helpful diapers are one of my much needed items that will help me survive. Your team is doing an affective role in presenting services that the government cannot or does not provide any support for disabled people with their families. You indicate that you do love me through your visit. God bless you all for your faithful loving service to our Lord”.
Follow along for a series of The Stories of Those We Support to get a new perspective of the Diapers for Refugees Program, first-hand from Christian refugees in the Middle East.
Yara xxxxxxxxxxx(14) has been displaced from the city of Qaraqosh with her family since June 2014 when they had to flee and take refuge in the City of Erbil after ISIS occupied their city. Yara has been paralyzed since birth due to damage of her brain cells as a result of a choking incident that occurred when she was born. Her parents discovered this disease when she was just two months old. Since then, Yara has undergone various stem cell treatments that were unsuccessful. After asking her father what her daily difficulties are, he replied “Actually , one of her worst challenges that she is struggling with is she is unable to depend on herself to use the bathroom or even walk, so we carry her and it is not easy for us because she is grown up and heavy. Also, she cannot speak to express her feelings. Therefore, sometimes we cannot guess what she is going through or what her real need is. We are especially thankful for your willingness to help, please know that we deeply appreciated that you put in effort to cover our expressed needs and may the lord bless all the people who donated these useful supplies abundantly”.
Diapers for Refugees has been committed to serving the Christian victims of radical Islam since 2016. To understand the influence your support has made through this program, please read this story from an 86-year-old man with paralyzed legs who receives adult diapers from our Diapers for Refugees program.
Adult diapers allow this paralyzed man to sleep normally at night.
“I love to state my gratitude for your help, I want to ask you to keep providing this kind of help, because I can’t afford the diapers for myself due to my disability and illness. I am aged patient, but with the diapers I can sleep properly in my home with a proper life.
I am satisfied with what God done for me that He made me be able to return back to my hometown when the Daesh (ISIS) were defeated. I believe that God didn’t forget me.
I love my hometown and my church which my father, the village families, and I helped to build Al-Tahera church that’s why I will never leave it; part of my life. I decided to stay here in Qaraqosh till I die.”
The man, who we will call Matthew, was helped to escape as the Islamic State overran the Nineveh Plain. He was cared for in a camp for displaced persons in Erbil but insisted on returning to his native town of Qaraqosh.
Many have returned with him to ancestral homes on the Nineveh Plain including young families who now have babies and toddlers. They are returning to looted and destroyed homes.
This ministry is blessed to have the opportunity to make a very real impact on Christians who have suffered loss and humiliation.
You see, the Religious Freedom Coalition provides diapers every month, not just to disabled elderly, but directly to 1,080 babies and toddlers of Christian mothers in the Nineveh Plain area of Iraq.
This note from the mother of four-month-old Jeenil Waad Moses from Bartilla encourages us to work to do even more.
More than 1,000 displaced Christian mothers receive diapers for their babies and toddlers.
“I have been recieved diapers for three times, one time monthly… I was not able to buy diapers for my daughter since the day of her birth.
I was very happy once I saw your team members and I felt that God didn’t forget us even though our house is destroyed and we do not even have a bed to sleep on.
Your team visit means a lot for us and make a huge difference in our lives.”
By supplying these mothers and babies with diapers, we are strengthening their faith in Christ and proving that they can trust in God to provide for their babies’ needs!
The joy this program provides for these displaced Christian mothers is evident in their smiles. To show your support to this growing program and to do your part to come alongside our brothers and sisters in need, please help by donating today!