“Write the vision, make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time, it hastens to the end, it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not delay.”
--- Habakkuk 2:2
Yes, I have taken this verse totally out of context, but standing as it is I find it appropriate with that which I will share with you today.
Back in 2015 Dr Saeed and I were invited to join the first Parliamentary Protocol going from Erbil to visit several Peshmerga bases and villages in Sinjar, which had just been released from the grip of ISIS.
As much as it was an incredible experience, it was somber, oppressive and totally heartbreaking. We met with true warriors who honored us in ways I had never encountered, when we should have been honoring them. Yes, the mountains, the landscape were breathtaking. Yes, being invited to shoot a pistol shot from a mountain overlooking ISIS sitting below us was both symbolic and triumphant.
But the destruction, the desecration, the horror remained, the ruins, the spirit of death that floated around...there will never be words that come close to describing what we witnessed in that day, and in further trips where we went into the areas where there are now mass graves…back in those days of 2015 and 2016, we saw skulls, we saw bones, we saw burned out vehicles, we saw blood stained clothes. We could barely tread anywhere as bombs, mines were everywhere. Fear with sensibility went hand in hand.
On each trip we returned to our agricultural village, exhausted in mind, in body and in spirit. We had met with the salt of the earth warriors and their commanders. We had slept on floor mattresses in rooms where the ISIS graffiti was right over our heads and women had been raped.
We had enjoyed a great meal with our friends. We had screamed at the atrocities that are forever engraved in our souls. We wept. We had driven in horrified silence, our vehicle on automatic pilot heading for Shariya.
There was no need to ask Dr Saeed the question that I so wanted to. He gave the answer. “I will not return to this place. It is a place of the dead. I feel so sick, I am sick. I will never go back."
And with that the story of Sinjar was closed. Not in my mind. But in his definitely. End of story.
We are both visionaries. Usually our visions and seeing ability are one and the same, one adding detail, one providing wisdom and insight but we track and run together. We have learned to wait for each other, before we run ahead.
Since the beginning of January I have been working with our team encouraging them to discover their vision for 2024 and to write it down, believing that “without a vision, the people perish." Proverbs 29.18
The good Dr and I have also been looking back and looking forward. I share with you his perspective and his vision.
Dr Saeed Alo
CEO Springs of Hope Foundation
Also Dean of Humanities, University of Duhok
“2023, what can I say? We are the embodiment of multiple Springs of Hope. It has been a year where many different people, ethnic groups, religions, ages came to drink from our spring. They know the water they are looking for and they come to us. It is known in Kurdistan that we have a spring. If I could change the name of Springs of Hope, I would call it Well of Hope, because we keep going deeper and deeper to give these springs of clean, fresh water.
When people come to us from all over Kurdistan, from all the camps, the Christian community in Avzruk, the Muslims and Arabs in the city, and they drink from this water, they taste life, they taste hope. I once said to you that they taste "Life water" and it is just that, living water. Once they have tasted that, there is no other taste, there is no other well or spring that gives life and can satisfy.
You ( Lisa ) asked the staff to write their vision, some can, those who drink from the Spring of Hope, their vision is clear. Those who are at the source but refuse to drink, have no vision. They have to taste hope, they have to taste life in order to have perspective and see. They are not thirsty.
During 2023, which was a year with many challenges that people who do not live in this region will not understand, we opened up new springs. Springs of Hope in the city, in a Kurdish Muslim and Arab orphanage for abandoned children whose parents are criminals, drug addicts, traffickers, prostitutes all now incarcerated. We opened a spring in the village orphanage with the Yezidi children whose entire family were killed by ISIS. We opened a spring for autistic children, another one for Down’s syndrom children. ( Rahat and Hewar ask their mums every day, is today Oscar and Newroz day? )
Springs of Hope are bubbling up all over the map of Kurdistan. I am so proud that we are able to dig deep wells from which Springs of Hope arise
We have become parents to hundreds upon hundreds of children all over Kurdistan, in different camps, in different villages. We have the honor of becoming a family to the broken, the lame, the sick, the one who is on the outside of society. They all come day after day to drink from our spring. Even those who have returned to live in Sinjar, come back to drink and go again.
But I see more. I see further. I am looking over and above the shouts and threats of the region. I believe that the political and economic situations will change, and will help us. We need patience, if we have that, we will be able to dig a new well.
It is time to dig a well in Sinjar. It is time to let the water flow from a new Spring of Hope. We will need a few scouting trips to find the right place to dig this well. Life water can not be found anywhere. We have to know exactly where to dig this well.
From that well will bubble up a spring of hope. It is time for the people of Sinjar to taste life water. It is time for them to be healed. It is time for them to come, drink and be satisfied.
It is time to return to this place of the dead, the place where ghosts walk and to bring life, hope and future.
Yes this will take everything from us. Yes we will begin from zero once again. But to give life water, to release a spring of hope, it will be worth the sacrifice.
Will it happen in 2024? I don't know. I know that we begin to look deeper, to look wider and to prepare ourselves to dig another well. When the light turns green, we move forward.”
Dr Saeed Alo. CEO Springs of Hope Foundation.
Also Dean of Humanities, University of Duhok
“And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham, and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. And Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of life water.”
--- Genesis 26.
Can you help?
Will you help us dig wells of hope? Life giving wells that heal and restore a broken people. We are so thankful for your kind and generous hearts that make all this possible. You are transforming lives.