Earlier this month, Shai Fund went in to Turkey and Iraq to investigate the needs of Christian refugees who have fled Iraq and Syria, and to deliver aid to those Christians still displaced in Northern Iraq and Northern Syria.
Turkey has around 45,000 Christian refugees who have fled Iraq and Syria. Many are desperate to leave. Some try the risky route across many borders to arrive in Europe, as the processing time in Turkey can take over five years without the ability to work.
We met a local priest who looks after some 73 distant villages in Turkey where the Christian refugee families have been forced to live; they cannot safely enter the refugee camps where the majority of the population is Muslim. He told us that food is the main issue. Of the Christian refugees, some 200 are families without fathers; just mothers and children. Some are mothers with as many as 8 children trying to make ends meet in a land where they have little support but from the church. He asked for help with these widows and orphans, for the sick and for the old and lonely.
Shai Fund plans to join the priest in bringing hope to Christian refugees at Christmas and so that they can celebrate the birth of Jesus. We will travel for five days after December 25th to nine cities in the hope of reaching some of these Christian communities. Shai Fund will sponsor the costs of the trip while giving out food vouchers to widows, large families with one parent, the lonely and elderly. 500 people will be assisted with this program.
Shai Fund has also committed to helping Christian families on the border with Syria with three months of food aid leading up to Christmas and a gift for all the children in December. 215 people will be assisted with this program, which includes 54 children.
In Northern Iraq, those that fled ISIS say that in the beginning many came to help them but now, over one year later, they are receiving less and less help. Many of the Christians and Yezidis rely on aid to survive as jobs are scarce. Putting food on the table is hard enough, let alone warm clothing for the winter. Conditions are also hard and many are sick. The small clinics run in the refugee and IDP caravan camps can barely keep up with the number of patients. In these conditions, keeping children warm and not sick so that they are able to attend school is of utmost importance.
Shai Fund was able to deliver waterproof winter jackets and boots to 450 Christian and Yezidi school going children.
A similar children’s project was also run in Northern Syria to help the religious minorities that have fled ISIS. Driven into the North East corner of Syria, Yezidi and Christian minorities have experienced kidnappings and just recently another three men of their community were beheaded.
In November, Shai Fund assisted 245 children of these communities with school supplies, school bags, winter jackets and boots. Families were also given milk and diapers.
Please consider supporting our efforts to bring hope and meet the needs of these suffering families.