On April 27th, CPT accompanied farmers of
Kani Shaya, a village in the Bazian area, to a meeting with a
representative of the company which is constructing a new cement factory
on agricultural land. Some farmers of the community signed contracts
with the company and sold their land. However, the monstrous
construction also affects the adjacent fields, whose owners have not
received anything. In the presence of CPT the company representative
promised that after the construction is finished and the company begins
earning money from the cement, the farmers will be compensated. In the
meantime, the company expressed that they might be willing to meet the
request of the farmers to provide electricity to some of their houses
that they use while working on their fields.
Visit to Yazidi leader in Arbat Camp
On the 3rd April the team met with Shekh
Shamu, a Ezidi (Yazidi) community leader at Arbat Camp. He told CPT of
the hardships he and his people face being the religious and ethnic
minority also among the displaced persons in the Arbat camp.
The Children's Project
As part of the Children's Project two CPTers carried out a workshop at
the REACH Community Centre in Bainjan. The workshop involved cooperation
games and team building activities as well as a lot of fun.
Easter Sunday the team awoke at 4:00am to travel to the Chaldean
Monastery for an Easter Sunrise Service. When we arrived we went through
the usual routine of passing through the security detail, having our
bags hand searched and being patted down for weapons. (Men only, since
there were no women assigned to the detail.) Stepping across the
threshold into the courtyard of the monastery we noticed that it was
very quiet. A few people were awake but the day had not yet started. It
would be a work day for most, since Easter and Sundays are not holidays
or days off in Kurdistan.
I first came to the monastery several years ago it was a place for
quiet reflection and meditation, a retreat center staffed by two priests
and one sister. Now it is a refugee center for the IDPs—internally
displaced persons—from Mosul, Qaraqosh and other Christian communities
from Iraq and Syria. As the time of the service approached, the people
living in the monastery, Christian Kurds and internationals, began to
file in and the service, led by Father Jens, began. The service was in
Arabic and English, one part, like the Apostle's Creed, read in Arabic,
the blessing for Host in English, then the wine, in Arabic. One of the
more powerful points during the worship came when the Christians in the
church prayed for God to forgive Al-Bagdadi, ISIS, Al-Shabaab and
finally those who most recently massacred Christians in Kenya. As I
stood there I realized I still have much to learn about forgiveness. My
heart is still hardened by revenge after spending time in the camps
hearing the stories of the Yazidis. How could the people in that church
who have suffered so much and lost everything they owned ask God to
forgive those who have committed such horror against them? Perhaps I
should open my ears and heart to the story of Jesus' passion and learn
the lesson of Easter? Standing shoulder to shoulder with the Christians
of Iraq has taught me much about the road I still have yet to travel.
In the past month, CPT has continued with
non-violence workshops in local high schools, wrapping up the school
year. Few things are as touching as seeing the transforming power of
non-violence on the faces of people who realize it's essence and
potential. We look forward to continuing these workshops in the new
Co-facilitating the Bazian Psychosocial Program
(Rehabilitation, Education and Community Health), a local NGO, started
an eight week psychosocial project with children and youth at the Bazian
Two REACH members have partnered with CPT to create an experiential
learning program that focuses on communication, team building, and trust
within the multi-cultural group of participants. The
eight week project will work with two groups: the first with children
aged 11 to 14 and the second with young people aged 15 to 18.
The first day
went very well with children and young people working together to build
their ideal house out of cardboard. They reflected on what it meant to
work together and things were required, such as good listening, to work
together well as a team. Although the program explores new - and
sometimes uncomfortable - concepts, they all participated and enjoyed
It will be exciting to journey with this group over the next eight weeks, learning from and supporting one another.
Pray for CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team’s partners who work with children, teaching peacebuilding skills and comforting those who had to flee from their homes.
*Epixel for Sunday, May 17, 2015
Children at Kobane School:
"Peace is what it was like before the war. On the right you can see children playing and going to school, trees,
flowers, and birds. This is what it used to be like in Syria. Now, there are tanks and rockets, people wounded
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:6
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.
Peace is what it was like before the war. On the right you can see children playing and going to school, trees, flowers, and birds. This is what it used to be like in Syria. Now, there are tanks and rockets, people wounded and dead.
Peace means safety in my country so I can go home. It means I am happy and the children can play together. The trees also represent peace.
There are two opposing armies ready to fight. Peace is a great leader who stands between the enemies and declares "do not fight!" The people decide to put down their guns and there is no war.
Peace means living together in harmony. Peace means the ability to walk together down the street, take a taxi, and watch the birds fly. Peace means giving charity to the poor.