ISIS Propaganda Photo
She had grown weary of seeing her boys grow up too fast.
A mother of young sons, somewhere in middle America, was moving her family to an “intentional community.” It’s a story I still remember, more than two years after reading it.
A white cloud is rising over this part of Mosul.
We’re at a warehouse inside the Mosul city limits, just a few miles from the front lines. Trucks are parked out front, but I can barely see them through the white haze. Our eyes are burning from it. People are coughing because of it.
But everyone is thrilled by it.
From “Dream City” to Nightmare to Medical Clinic: How You’re Meeting Needs in an Overlooked Refugee Camp
There is a place in Iraq called “Dream City.” But for many of the refugees who took shelter here after ISIS, it felt more like a nightmare.
Earlier this year, you helped provide water here for displaced families who found shelter in this unfinished housing development in northern Iraq.
Four of the fingernails on my right hand—and a good portion of the surrounding skin—are freshly painted purple. Toleen, four years-old and not yet skilled with the tiny brush in the bottle of nail polish we gave her a few days ago, decides she has finished my impromptu manicure. She climbs up into her mother’s lap and settles in for a few moments.
Her mom, Abeer, buries her face into her daughter’s messy curls, barely held back by a yellow plastic hair band. Toleen is her treasure.
Sunlight shines in through the front door, projecting a brilliant shaft across the floor and far wall. We sit together drinking sugary tea, at least five conversations happening at the same time. There is a lightness and warmth here—a palpable sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Fadeela and Madeeha were our first two business grant recipients, pioneers of our empowerment project two years ago. It is a joy to visit them again. So much has changed in that time, but it took the full two years to get to a place of real stability.
We enter the raw concrete courtyard through a metal gate. Curious, barefooted children screech in excitement, then run to stand in the shadow of their grandparents.
Little puddles of water glisten in the sun—the floors have just been washed and aren’t yet dry. This home in a nearby refugee camp, a couple tiny rooms lining a small courtyard, is impeccably clean. So clean that it takes a minute to actually register the space.
There is almost nothing here.
This week, hundreds of Christians in northern Iraq celebrated Christmas in their own churches, for the first time in years.
Back in 2014, ISIS swept across the Nineveh plains, capturing town after town—including some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. ISIS persecution targeted Christians, Yazidis, Muslims, and others. No one was safe.
“It’s so cold. The families who come to us feel terrible because of the cold and fear, and the struggle to come all the way from Mosul to this place.” —Firas, hospitality center manager
We scraped snow off our windshields this morning, it’s that cold.
And as much as we appreciate the beauty, it is impossible to forget the families that ran from Mosul today, newly displaced, fleeing from ISIS and completely unsure of what is ahead.
As we ramp up emergency relief efforts in Aleppo, Syria, we continue to help Iraqi families who are caught up in the war against ISIS. So far, most families have stayed put—either by choice or necessity.
But many of those who run are fleeing south from the Mosul area, and many of them land at our "hospitality center," where they can catch their breath and plan their next steps.
That’s where you meet them.