In June last year, during the afternoon siesta in the heat of the day, a black cloud covered our village indicating that a terrifying fire had broken out inside Shariya camp, destroying 250 tents and rendering 200 families displaced, once again losing the little that they had managed to accumulate during seven years of tent living post displacement from their ancestral homeland by ISIS.
For three months we worked double shifts to feed the homeless families twice a day, provided day care for the younger children who were once again homeless, Khero and Sami twice a day did cold water delivery straight from our paddling pool which was filled with blocks of ice. We replaced burned clothes and precious personal items, household utensils and finally purchased water coolers, washing machines, stoves, fridges and air coolers for the new builds made of blocks.
As the four meter by four meter block homes went up there were mixed feelings in the camp. Those who saw block houses as a silent sign of permanence. Those who were relieved to have a more secure form of dwelling not to mention a window and door. There were the "haves" and the “have nots”. Some felt uncomfortable in having a new home whilst their friends lived in ragged tents. The situation was complex on many layers but we were so very glad to be part of the building, which ushered in a new season of increased safety and security. Last June, prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, and the current Russian invasion of the Ukraine, building costs were cheap and we got to work with your generous gifts to get the homeless settled again.
At that time many of us were waiting for an announcement permitting personal exchange of tents for a block building. The announcement did not come. Some tent dwellers received “encouragement” to return to Sinjar, which some did only to return to the camp in ever increasing waves during the past months, due to heightened unrest and danger there. Sinjar may be home, but it is simply unsafe with vying militias fighting for control at the expense of human life.
During the past week The Shariya Camp management has announced that all residents will be permitted to, at their own cost, replace tents with block buildings. A bittersweet announcement. It means both safety from a tent being set on fire, yet it is a sign of permanence. The light is on amber, waiting for a formal announcement from the Governor of Duhok. The camp is abuzz with anticipation.
We, here at Springs of Hope Foundation, desire to help our families embrace this opportunity, this season of building. We would like to provide the funding for 40 of our students who were rescued from ISIS, 99% of whom are orphans and live with extended family. We would like to give them some measure of permanence, a home to which to return, protection from the elements, something which they can own and take possession of.
I have watched the hay being harvested recently. There is one combine harvester for each village which goes from field to field. The harvest has been sparse this year with the piles of hay being smaller and lower. When the combine leaves, the shepherds return with their goats and sheep to graze, our horses go outside for a few minutes each day, then come sunset the local women come in with empty sacks to glean.
Most evenings I have watched this, pictures that come straight out of the book of Ruth. Pictures that remind me that there was always Biblical provision for the orphan and the widow. This dear friends is the status of our rescued kiddies, orphans living with extended family most of whom, i.e. the aunts, are themselves widows with no one to support them or defend them.
When we asked you for help to rebuild last year, it was a relatively easy ask. $500 per four meter by four meter (tent size) block building. This year it is not an easy ask but we will come to you on behalf of those “who are speechless, for the rights of the destitute” Proverb 31:8
Once the Governor has issued his declaration, our prayer is to build 40 block homes by the end of this year. We need $1000 per house. 480 blocks : $150 15 bags of cement, ie 1 ton : $100 2 tractors of sand: $90 Window: $60 Door:$120 Metal support for roof: $50 Sandwich panel for roof: $160 Plaster: $100 3 day workers for 2 days: $160 Total per 4 by 4 meter house: $990, when including rate of exchange fees etc, $1000.
By the way, this sharp increase is also reflected in all our day to day costs and expenses. We too are struggling with the fall out of this period of time.
We have been so very blessed to be waymakers, solution providers, to have the answer before the question even arose. We would gently ask you to consider partnering with us on this very big deal for our families, get together with friends and members of your community to help solidify our students' future and by doing so, bring yet another layer of healing to those who have nothing.
We broached the subject of family this week through the medium of art. All of our rescued children drew their full family (although still “not found” somewhere in Syria or beyond) and a house, not a tent.
Let's give them a house. Let’s together “execute justice for the fatherless and the widow.” Deuteronomy 10:18
“Execute justice for the fatherless and the widow.” Deuteronomy 10:18
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FIRE AND HOW WE WERE ABLE TO STEP IN AND HELP CLICK THIS LINK
TO WATCH A VIDEO ABOUT THE BLOCK HOUSES CLICK THIS LINK