A story to warm your heart… on a cold winter’s night
Over this last year I’ve written several newsletters about our work in Iraq, so I had it in my heart to write about something different at year end. I had even started to work on a post about Nepal (we’ve got some great stuff happening there and I really should tell you about it sometime).
But I received this story from our relief project leader in Iraq and it was so heart warming that I had to share it with you. It’s winter in Iraq and our relief distribution to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) has expanded to distribute blankets, coats, heaters and kerosene.
Help Me Help My Neighbours
Sometimes, Kurds don’t like Arabs. When you look at recent history and see how much Arabs oppressed the Kurds it is easy to understand why. So when Jesse* told me over tea that he needed our help to assist Arab IDPs who were living near him, I was surprised. But with a sad heart I told him “well that may have to wait until next month because we are very busy right now with some other refugees.” Jesse’s eyes sank; I knew he was disappointed – then he asked me “what are you doing right now?” “Having tea with you,” I responded. To which he said, “ok then come with me now and just meet two of these families.” So we went and I quickly realized that these refugees were in some of the worst conditions we had seen yet.
An IDP family receives blankets, a heater and kerosene.
Many of the Arabs that have fled the violence and war brought on by ISIS are among the most vulnerable of IDPs in the area because the locals generally don’t reach out to them. After our visits Jesse turned to me and said, “You needed to come and see them, because when you see them it changes you.” My heart was broken, but we still didn’t have any extra time right then. What Jesse did next surprised me even more, as he offered to take time off of work and do whatever was needed to help these people right then. And so he spent two days shopping in the market, found Kurdish friends to join him, filled 3 trucks with supplies and delivered heaters, blankets, and stoves to people who had none in the middle of winter.
War changes people and societies. Normally it causes us to hate. But for Jesse it caused him to love these Arabs, a people his culture and history says he should despise. Tonight 24 Arab families are warm because of Jesse’s choice. But more than being warm tonight, 24 Arab families are pondering how four Kurds chose to show them love. War changes people and this time for Jesse and 24 Arab families, it has broken down prejudice and hatred. This time refugee assistance wasn’t just about meeting physical needs. It was about changing the future and about creating love where before there was hate. Thank you for making this possible.
*Jessie’s name has been changed. The IDP families on his heart come from Baghdad, Babylon and Mosul.