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Ziklag 2021

The good Doctor and I were up (from our separate homes) and out at sunrise this Friday morning, in order to lay the foundations of our Fountain of Hope, in the Garden. Whilst standing there in the early morning but ominously threatening heat and gazing over at the tents all bundled up against the day, that I realized that until the tent people move into their new homes, that I too, have to wait for this season to pass. I can’t circumvent it, can't speed it up. When the season changes, we will know.

Living here on the edge of the plains of Nineveh, life has taught me patience, that there is a season and a time for every purpose for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3) and to try to jump out of the season would be to come out of alignment with both the land and the people. I would be swinging alone on the axis of the region. So we linger with The Fire for a little longer. I have been asking myself “what is this season, what is it saying to us, what’s the lesson it is telling us?” It feels hard, harsh, and unkind. The Fire is its direct manifestation. It is way more than a fire which caused destruction and shock, it is a season, a perpetuating cycle in itself. This is a season of instability and displacement, of turmoil and uncertainty. We have realized over this past month that our role is to provide security, and confidence in a region of shakings. As Thursday evening began to relinquish its fierce heat, I sat in the Garden with Aras, the Chairman of our local Board of Directors who lives in the nearby city. His mood became that of a concerned lawyer as he received bitter news on a phone call. He sighed deeply, “I have to go now, my village has been taken over by soldiers from a neighboring country. My clan is on the way to Duhok. Soldiers are living in my house. No one had time to take anything, they just picked up and fled. We have to prepare and find places for them to live. I have to organize people to cook food for them.”The displacement of Kurds within Kurdistan. Yet another ethnic cleansing is taking place, in front of our eyes. An entire clan uprooted, probably never to return to their ancient tribal lands. Another sign of the season of shakings and illegal conquest and plunder.

Aras received his call to take care of his clan and our attention has remained with our Yezidi tribe. Forty families of those displaced by The Fire are living in temporary tents close to The Hope Centre. As Musa and I drove in to deliver a new bike, our vehicle was surrounded, pressed into by women begging us for water. They thirsted. We returned to the centre to form a plan of action, namely the purchase of a paddling pool, purchase of ice blocks to dump into the pool to cool bottles of water...and three times a day distribution of cool water.

You may be asking, why the tent people don't even have money to buy water. A good question indeed, those who had money from day labor, kept it in jars or pans inside the tents. There are no coins in Iraqi currency, only paper notes, all of which burned. There are those who had managed to save something for a child’s education, all burned. They are dependent upon being fed and given water. Being reduced to total dependence shakes the very core of one’s being. We are anticipating a continued period of time where, once in new homes, we continue to provide food boxes until they are able to stand alone again.

All of which circles us back to the season of uprooting and displacement and August 3rd, 2014. Listening to Khero and Sami who are super troopers, hauling bottles of water, blocks of ice, kilos of veg, out in the camp three times a day, never later, never missing a beat, gave me understanding.



“August 3rd, 2014 and the weeks after, were just like this. Exactly the same. The heat was the same. The hunger was the same. The thirst was the same. The fear was the same. The lack of security was the same. The screaming was the same. The sobbing was the same. The silence was the same. The abandonment was the same. You know something, the tent people know that Springs of Hope will come with food. Food and drink are security and confidence. It is a promise assuring them that they will live and not die. They know we will come at 9 with water, at 12 with food and water and again at 6 with water. No one else is giving food. They trust us not to abandon them. Every day our actions are saying, “This is not August 3rd, look here is your portion and you will have leftovers until we return late I know when someone is lying to me saying he has twenty people in the tent when he only has eight. I get annoyed but I know where he is coming from. His fear is speaking, not greed, fear. So that man I will give an extra portion or two, so that he will not fear. So that he will be in peace and will trust us.”

- Khero



“Would we be killed by Daesh or die of hunger or dehydration? I saw those dying of thirst. I will never let anyone be thirsty again. If I have to go into the camp six times a day, I will. Whatever I can do to assure them that there is food and water, and that they will not lack, I will do that.”

- Sami


Dr. Saeed