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- American FRRME | Living Conditions of Refugees
Living Conditions Of Refugees in Jordan By Alice Seeley Published On May 28, 2020 Currently, the Syrian conflict is the largest source of internally displaced people in the world. There are nearly 5.5 million Syrian refugees in the Middle-East. As of 2019, Jordan, which borders Syria, had registered 662,010 of these refugees. Jordan is home to the second-largest refugee camp in the world, known as Zaatari. Less than 10 miles from the Syrian border, it opened in 2012 and has since become known as Jordan’s 4th largest “city.” Today, roughly 80,000 Syrian refugees live there in rows of tents. There are few populations more vulnerable to the health risks of inferior living conditions than refugees. Refugee camps are often overcrowded and of poor quality. Although some refugees find work, many –especially children and the elderly—are entirely dependent on aid. Most refugee camps do not have sufficient food to feed their populations. Malnutrition makes refugees weak and more at risk for a variety of diseases and illnesses. Poor living conditions are not limited to the camps. Some refugees—mainly Syrian– live outside of camps in unofficial self-settlements. These settlements, less well known than the camps, are often overlooked when it comes to aid. Sixteen percent of the Syrian refugee population in Jordan report chronic health problems. These health problems often result from these poor living conditions. The dampness and mold of the camps is the source of many health problems, such as aches, pains, digestive disorders, malaria, and respiratory tract infections. Malaria is also a major threat to those living in primitive conditions, often without window screens or solid doors. The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East provides humanitarian assistance to refugees who have fled persecution and genocide. It also provides health care on a case-by-case basis among IDPs and refugee populations in Jordan. Please consider donating today to help FRRME provide these life-saving services. American FRRME is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit NETWORK FOR GOOD.
- American FRRME | Iraqi Refugee Crisis
The Iraq Refugee Crisis By Alice Seeley Published On May 21, 2020 Iraq has suffered from decades of conflict with other nations and internal strife. However, the current Iraqi refugee crisis began when militants attacked Christians and ethnic minorities. In 2014, ISIS, the militant group known for its brutality, started to seize territory in western and northern Iraq. Children and families, primarily Christians, were victims of targeted violence as well as being caught in the crossfire. The communities they built and enjoyed were destroyed. Many were forced to flee with only the clothes on their backs. The ongoing violence in Iraq has created a distressing humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, leaving millions of Iraqis displaced in and outside of their country. The current Iraqi refugee crisis is the largest displacement of people in the Middle East since 1948. Since 2015, 4.2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes, with over 2 million of them seeking asylum in neighboring countries such as Jordan and Syria. There are few places on earth where Christianity is as old as it is in Iraq. Iraqi Christian communities can trace their founding back to the first century A.D. In the early 2000s, there were 1.2 million Christians living in Iraq. Today, due to persecution by ISIS, that number is less than 250,000 — an eighty percent drop in less than two decades. The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East assists displaced Christians in Iraq and Jordan by providing food, shelter, medical care, and help with relocation. The Foundation’s operations in Baghdad, Northern Iraq, and Amman Jordan have helped thousands to recover from the shock and trauma of sectarian violence and start a new life. Please consider donating to help us keep providing these services. American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/frrmeamerica?code=WebsiteGeneral The Refugee Crisis and Education By Alice Seeley Published On May 15, 2020 In most of the western world, the vast majority of children attend school from kindergarten through 12th grade. But not everyone in the world is this privileged. Many First world children view school as a chore and complain about it, children in refugee camps would be overjoyed. Out of the 7.1 million refugee children of school age, 3.7 million — more than half– do not have the opportunity to attend school. Only 63 percent of refugee children go to primary school, compared to 91 percent of non-refugee children. The lack of schools is keenly felt by refugees, who often come from cultures that prize education. Pre-civil war, for example, the Syrian government worked hard to ensure free, public education for all and subsidized post-secondary education. The Syrian culture, as a whole, had a great appreciation for the arts. And in general, education is becoming much more available throughout the Middle East, with the number of college graduates increasing dramatically in the past decade. But where conflict erupts, the effects on countries with established educational systems can be devastating. The situation is even bleaker as refugee children get older. Around the world, 84 percent of adolescents go to secondary school, while only 24 percent of refugee teens have this opportunity. As these young people get older, the barriers that prevent them from accessing learning become harder to overcome. Refugees, like all people around the world, deserve an opportunity to be educated. Going to school gives refugee children a routine and a place of security despite the chaos around them. More importantly, it is the surest road to success after being displaced. An education gives refugees the chance to move on, rise above their circumstances, and rebuild their lives. The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East gives refugees this life-changing gift. In 2015, the foundation initiated an afternoon school for Christian refugees in the suburbs of Amman, Jordan, which has gone on to be recognized as a model school in the region. Since then, they have underwritten tuition for refugees attending private schools, provided books and other materials to schools in settlement camps, funded construction and provisioning of an all-girls school in a settlement camp, funded Kindergarten and university expenses for refugee youth in Kurdistan, and taught English classes to both children and adults. Your generous donation will help them continue this work. American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/frrmeamerica?code=WebsiteGeneral
- American FRRME | Christian Persecution
Christian Persecution in the Middle East Continues By Alice Seeley Published On June 6, 2020 The persecution of Christians in the Middle East is near genocide levels. The Christians of the Middle East are no strangers to persecution, but it has worsened significantly in the past 20 years and has led to a significant exile of Christian believers from this area. In Syria, the Christian population has dropped from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000 today; and in Iraq, the Christian population has dropped from 1.5 million before 2003 to below 120,000 today. A century ago Christians comprised 20 percent of the population in the Middle East, but since then the population has fallen to less than 4 percent. Christianity is at risk of disappearing in the Middle East. Civil wars in Syria and Iraq have caused increased persecution against the Christian population. The most extreme form of persecution, obviously, is martyrdom. Other forms of persecution include violent threats, harassment, confiscation, and attacks on churches and properties owned by Christians, imprisonment, and legal discrimination. Some Christians are given the option of conversion or death. If they’re lucky, they might simply be heavily taxed for being non-Muslim. In addition, many Christians do not attend church out of fear of attacks, such as bombings. Christian leaders in the Middle East have been subject to arrests, kidnappings, and killings. Christians face specific challenges in displacement. Many avoid entering refugee camps out of fear of targeted attacks or because they feel safer in a Christian community. Instead, they live in private homes or seek asylum in religious buildings. Not living in refugee camps restricts their access to assistance and services. Charities like the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East can reach these refugees by providing assistance to churches, UN camps, and non-official camps, giving humanitarian assistance and hope to Christians in the Middle East. The foundation also works closely with St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad to help those in need. In addition, American FRRME opened the doors to its first Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan – providing a place of refuge and a community center for believers near Amman. American FRRME is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/frrmeamerica?code=WebsiteGeneral
- American FRRME | Number of Refugees Doubled
The Number of Refugees Has Doubled in the Past Decade By Alice Seeley Published On June 20, 2020 Nearly 80 million people worldwide qualify as refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced. This number rose by 9 million from a year earlier. It is close to double the 41 million recorded in 2010, despite Covid-19 restrictions slowing down movement. Of the 79.5 million displaced people globally, 26 million are refugees, 4.2 million are asylum seekers, and 45.7 million are IDPs. This amounts to one percent of the world’s total population. Around half of the 79.5 million are children. They are very often not given access to education and are often exposed to violence and exploitation at a young age. The Middle East has been the center of this humanitarian crisis and remains so. Seven in 10 of those displaced came from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Venezuela, and Myanmar. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees— 3.9 million people, mostly from Syria, where the civil war has entered its tenth year. 73 percent of refugees seek asylum in a neighboring country, thus involving countries in the Middle East as sources of refugees and asylums. The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East provides humanitarian assistance, health care, and education to those who have fled persecution and genocide, including Christians, Yazidis, Shabak, and others throughout the Middle East. This is made possible through your generous donations. American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit NETWORK FOR GOOD .
- American FRRME | The Syrian Crisis Worsens
Syrian Refugees Forced Out Of Lebanon By Alice Seeley Published On July 25, 2020 In the past week, President Michel Aoun of Lebanon renewed his call for Syrian refugees to return to Syria, as Lebanon believes the Syrian refugees have had serious repercussions on Lebanese society and economy. The Lebanese President ordered this despite a US State Department warning that this is not a good time for Syrians to return. Syria is currently in the ninth year of civil war and is extremely unsafe. Despite the danger of life in Syria, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has recently decreased dramatically, to 890,000. Hundreds have returned to their homeland, viewing it as the better option as life in Lebanon has become increasingly unsafe and untenable for them. The border between Lebanon and Syria still remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic but is opened for Lebanese returning to their country and Syrians returning to Syria. The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East assists Syrian refugees in Kurdistan, Jordan, and other countries where they have fled. It also works with the Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman to assist Syrian Orthodox Christian refugees from Iraq. The organization and its partners assist these individuals by providing life-saving humanitarian assistance, to help them overcome horrific circumstances and obtain a better life. These resources are made possible by the generous donations of faithful donors. American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/frrmeamerica?code=WebsiteGeneral The Syrian Crisis Worsens By Alice Seeley Published On July 15, 2020 With a severe bread shortage caused by many bakeries suspending work because of a lack of flour and a rise in the price of baking materials, Syria currently faces the risk of mass starvation or another mass exodus. Anti-regime protests have taken place across the country over the past six weeks as civilians risk arrest to protest Syria’s worsening economic crisis. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, more than 380,000 Syrians have been killed and a staggering 13.2 million have been displaced, with 80 percent of Syrians living in poverty. Making the situation worse, Syria’s currency recently collapsed, causing food prices to soar. In the past six months, the number of people struggling with food shortage in Syria has risen from 7.9 million to 9.3 million. Half a million children are considered to be stunted by malnutrition. In desperation, many Syrians have no choice but to flee to neighboring countries like Jordan, as many did in 2015. The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East does not have a center in Syria. However, American FRRME is increasingly helping a number of Syrian refugees in Kurdistan and also does work with the Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman to assist Syrian Orthodox Christian refugees from Iraq. The organization and its partners assist these refugees in Jordan and other countries by providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to help them overcome horrific circumstances and obtain a better life. These resources are made possible by generous donations by faithful donors. American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/frrmeamerica?code=WebsiteGeneral The Syrian Civil War Crisis By Alice Seeley Published On May 13, 2020 One of the worst humanitarian crises of modern time has been going on for ten years, as of March 2020. This crisis is the Syrian civil war. Over the total course of this catastrophic war, 12 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes. Over the past few months, this already astronomic number has increased dramatically. From December 2019 to February 2020, over 900,000 people have been forced to flee as the conflict increased. Their homes are bombed out and they are left with no necessities. Of these refugees, 5.6 million of them have fled to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Turkey alone is home to more than 3 million Syrian refugees. Lebanon and Jordan host 1.6 million. Many of these are Christian refugees, often families with young children, who are caught in the middle with nowhere safe to flee. Syria is a dangerous region for everyone, but most especially Christians. Before the Syrian civil war, more than 20,000 Christian families lived in northeastern Syria. Christians have been in this region since the first century AD. Over the course of the civil war, ISIS has targeted, enslaved and brutally murdered many Christians in attempts to take control of the region. For example, bombings in 2015 and 2016 specifically targeted Christians. Today, sadly, only 7000 to 8000 Christian families remain in northeastern Syria. Now, according to recent reports, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (a terrorist organization) has started seizing Christian properties in the area. It considers them to be spoils of war. This has resulted in the displacement of more families. Syria is currently the fifth most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian. Christians are fleeing Syria in hopes of a better life. To help them achieve this, the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East partners with churches and other NGOs in Jordan and other neighboring countries, but this is only made possible by donations. Please donate today to help these religious refugees. American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. To make a donation to American FRRME , please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/frrmeamerica?code=WebsiteGeneral
- American FRRME | Yazidi Genocide
The Yazidi Genocide By Alice Seeley Published On May 22, 2020 The Yazidis are a religious ethnic minority, living primarily in northern Iraq. The terrorist group ISIS has accused them of devil worship and because of this has have committed genocide as well as other horrendous crimes against the Yazidi people. Their intent was to wipe out this Kurdish-speaking religious minority, which practices an ancient, monotheistic religion. In August 2014, ISIS invaded, attacked and occupied Sinjar, the homeland of the Yazidi. Almost 200,000 Yazidis were besieged by ISIS, executed, abducted into slavery, or forced into ISIS training camps. Since 2014, we know that at least 5,000 Yazidis have been killed, an estimated 7,000 Yazidis kidnapped and thousands of Yazidi children orphaned because of ISIS. Mass graves have been found testifying to the slaughter, the true extent of which may never be known. This genocide of Yazidis by ISIS prompted the largest wave of immigration from Iraq in recent history. Thousands of Yazidis fled the horrors of captivity. They sought safety by fleeing to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Today, hundreds of thousands of Yazidis remain displaced. Although Sinjar was retaken in November 2015, the Yazidis are still displaced and have no place to return. Nearly 70 percent of buildings in Sinjar were damaged or destroyed during the fight to retake the city. Modern-day Sinjar is a ghost town, without water, schools, or hospitals. The American Foundation for Relief & Reconciliation in the Middle East provides humanitarian assistance, health care, and education to Yazidis who have fled the genocide throughout the Middle East. American FRRME is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East. To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit NETWORK FOR GOOD.
- American FRRME | Christians Struggle
Christians Struggle to be Counted in Iraq’s Democratic Process By Keely Jahns Published On January 17, 2022 Iraq is home to the oldest continuously practicing body of Christians in the world. In 1990, there were estimated to be 1.5 million, 3% of the total Iraqi population. Since then, the population has been decimated by war and sectarian violence, with generous estimates placing the number of Christians left in Iraq at around 500,000. These Iraqis want to be a part of the democratic process, and want political representation in their home country. However, in the aftermath of October’s contested election, it is clear that the nation’s political system still hails to calls of sectarianism by the majority. This poses a challenge to integration and the democratic process. Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, has called out inequality for the members of his community and other Christian communities in Iraq. He criticized the US-introduced “quota system,” in response to the contested October 2021 election. Though the sectarian quota system or muhasasa was introduced by the US after it occupied the Middle Eastern nation in 2003, its foundations were laid out by Iraqi opposition at the beginning of the 1990s. Under the muhasasa system, only nine of the 329 seats in the Council of Representatives in the country of 40.2 million people are allocated to minorities. Seats for Christian minorities are allotted to the provinces of Baghdad, Nineveh, Erbil, and Duhock. And together, the allowance of Christians in parliament is still only five seats, one for each province. In Kurdistan, which has a different system, there are five seats designated for Christians in their regional parliament. Iraq held a snap election on October 10th, 2022, in response to anti-government protesters. Iraq’s independent election commission announced the final results of the October polls on Nov. 30 following weeks of recounting and allegations by the losing parties. The alliance led by Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr won the election. Five seats changed as a result of recounting and the political bloc, the Sadrist Movement, led by al-Sadr, a prominent Shia cleric, won a total of 73 out of the 329 seats. The conservative Islamic Sadrist Movement calls to govern Iraq using Islamic law and traditional tribal customs. According to Cardinal Sako, the main obstacle to the democratic process is the sectarian mentality, which is reflected in the quota system under which electoral seats are divided on an ethno-religious basis in parliament as well as in public policy and government work. The sectarianism feeds “corruption, poverty, unemployment and illiteracy,” Cardinal Sako said in a recent message. There are around 14 different sects of Christianity within Iraq, and many are considered some of the oldest bodies of practicing Christians in the world, with roots dating back to the evangelism of the Apostle Thomas. The largest and oldest sects exist on the Nineveh Plain, and include the Assyrian Orthodox Church, Syriac Orthodox and Chaldean Catholic church. When ISIS invaded the Nineveh Plain in 2014, the insurgents offered Christians few choices: convert, pay Jizyah (an Islamic tax), leave, or die. Most opted to flee their homeland and settle elsewhere, hoping to find better opportunities in lands free of violence. Most left with only the clothes on their backs and a hope in their hearts that they could escape sectarian violence for good. Even that was hard to come by – with the Middle East becoming an increasingly hostile place for Christians of all sects. The Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan, has been a safe haven for Iraqi refugees since its inception. The center offers programs to help heal the trauma that many of these resilient people have experienced due to sectarian violence, and continues to stand as a beacon of hope to refugees in Madaba, whatever the circumstances. American FRRME is committed to long term self-sustaining programs and opportunities to help empower Iraqi refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Donations to American FRRME toward programs that help these families are critical for their survival.
- American FRRME | Prayer of Blessing
A Prayer of Blessing at The Olive Tree Center American FRRME Staff September 8, 2022 On August 6, 2022, the Iraqi refugee community gathered together at The Olive Tree Center to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the 2014 ISIS insurgency in Iraq. They gathered to sing, pray, and remember the day that changed their lives forever. Um Rama is a Jordanian woman who has been supporting the Iraqi refugee community since they arrived in Madaba and now helps run the programs at The Olive Tree Center. To open the event on August 6, Um Rama prayed this prayer of blessing over the event, the center and the Iraqi people in Madaba. Almighty God. Creator. Teacher. Healer. We are thanking you for this special day. We are praying and begging you to shower these people with your blessings and give them eternal peace. Touch the people around me, keep them happy and safe . Give them love, compassion and care. Thank you Lord for this lovely event and thank you for American FRRME. Thank you for this great place and this Center that is the reason for all of the blessings and the great things for all the Iraqi people that are living here in Madaba. Bless all the people here dear God. Bless our event. Bless all the things that we do and allow all the people to feel happy and excited today. Blessed be your name, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen. American FRRME’s Mission of Hope, Help, and Healing American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (American FRRME) is a U.S.-based Christian charity that aims to bring hope, help and healing in the Middle East, assisting Iraqi Christian refugees and other religious minorities. American FRRME works to support the ongoing needs of Iraqis – primarily Christian Iraqis – who fled Iraq and Kurdistan during the ISIS insurgency in 2014. The organization supports those displaced within Iraq many of whom remain living in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps in Baghdad and northern Iraq, as well as supporting those who fled to neighboring Jordan. Working in partnership with churches in Iraq and Jordan, American FRRME is on the ground, providing food, clothing, education and more. In 2019 we established the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan. The center provides a safe and accessible place for Iraqi refugees to gather together and celebrate their culture together. Crucially, the center provides education and therapeutic activities including English classes, sewing, art and music, along with a mosaic and wood workshop and fresh produce garden.
- American FRRME | Love Each Other
Love Each Other as I Have Loved You By Alice Seeley Published On June 21, 2021 As Jesus loves us, we are commanded to love one another. As we slowly return to normal life post-COVID-19, let’s not forget to love those who are not as fortunate. We celebrate how many have now been vaccinated. Sadly these refugees are among the last on the list. They may never receive a vaccine. The American Foundation for Relief & Reconciliation in the Middle East provides humanitarian assistance, health care, and education to refugees, including the Yazidis who fled genocide. These are necessary services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Yazidis are a religious minority in the Middle East, much like Christians, as well as their own distinct ethnic group. They fled their homeland of Sinjar to Northern Iraq when ISIS invaded in 2014. 200,000 Yazidis were besieged by ISIS, executed, abducted into slavery, or forced into ISIS training camps. Today, hundreds of thousands of Yazidis remain displaced. They are in desperate need of help. These services are only made possible through your donations! American FRRME delivers necessary hygiene packages to the Yazdi IDP Camp in Shekan, Iraq. The refugees were beyond grateful! 8-year-old Ronahi told us how limited the refugees’ lives have been, and how much in danger they have felt from the virus.: “When Corona came, we had to protect ourselves, we wore masks because this disease doesn’t know children or their parents, it is dangerous for all of us.” As Jesus commanded us to love one another, will you help us in providing necessary supplies? Any amount makes a difference! American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East.
- American FRRME | Seeds of Hope
Seeds of Hope As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the refugees American FRRME supports in Jordan remain resilient. They continue to teach that through these tough times, faith, patience, fortitude, friendship, and hope for better times will overcome the fear of the unknown this pandemic brings. Though life as a refugee in Jordan continues to come with its vast share of challenges and hardships, with the need for support being great, hope is blossoming within the refugee community. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, American FRRME’s team has found ways to continue to support refugees. One such way is the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, which, despite COVID-19 restrictions, remains a place of hope and healing. Recently, this hope has presented itself in the previously undeveloped grounds of the Olive Tree Center. Iraqi refugees, in shifts of two at a time, practicing social distancing and wearing masks and gloves, have started to create a beautiful vegetable, fruit, and flower garden on the Olive Tree Center grounds. This garden –made by refugees, for refugees–will eventually bring much-needed food support while also providing jobs to the refugee community. This project relieves the monotony of endless days trapped inside, allows them to breathe fresh air in a safe space, and obtain a sense of accomplishment from breathing life into the ground. Though the results won’t be seen immediately, the seeds that have been planted will eventually transform the garden, bearing fruit and serving as “seeds of hope”. Though the future is uncertain, hope, help, and healing can be provided, as we continue to nourish and strengthen refugee communities. Azad, the head gardener, said: “Life as refugees in Jordan was very difficult even before the pandemic. We are not allowed to work, yet we have to find a way to provide for our families. We felt frustrated and hopeless. The garden of hope has allowed me to provide not only for my family but also for the larger Iraqi refugee community.” He adds, “This project has been a huge blessing on our lives. I hope we can continue to make it the best garden ever and expand it more and more. I already have plans to add three clementine trees. I have many hopes for this garden and for what it can continue to do in the community.” The Olive Tree Center hosts weekly produce distributions. Refugee families come on a rotating basis, to ensure that each week, different families benefit from the community garden. When asked what he thinks about a future garden of hope for other refugees throughout Jordan, Azad says “I am so happy to hear there will be other gardens of hope. Food is so expensive here and it is very difficult to find ways to buy it without being able to legally work. Thank you American FRRME for this opportunity! Iraqi refugees need this chance to be able to provide for their families and community. Being able to teach others gardening, and to be outside doing something that helps the community has brought me much joy during this time. I am teaching my son how to garden as well. It has been very special to be outside together doing something I love and sharing that with him.” He continues, “I used to garden in Iraq, but here I didn’t have a garden or a chance to do it so. It has been a blessing to teach my sons and others a hobby from my past that benefits the whole community. Helping others makes me forget a lot of my frustration, being able to provide physically again for the community motivates me not to lose hope for a better future.” This garden of hope is only made possible through your generous donations! American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East.
- American FRRME | Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday: Traditions in Iraq and Around the World By Keely Jahns Published On April 14, 2022 This Sunday, April the 17th, millions of Christians around the globe will be celebrating Easter and commemorating the resurrection of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Among them are most Protestant denominations, Roman Catholics, and a majority of people in Europe and the Americas. Even among the unaffiliated, Easter is still a celebration of new life and springtime, and a reason to attend a religious service or gather with family. Easter is the most sacred holiday for the Body of Christ, although it is slightly less significant in the sphere of Western culture than Christmas. You will find it to be less commercialized (although many still use it as an opportunity to give sweet treats to little ones in the form of Easter baskets and egg hunts), without so many movies, decorations, or toys. While the kids enjoy its more whimsical traditions, and candy companies in the United States still make a sizable dime, Easter is a smaller holiday within popular culture. Yet, it is the most important celebration in all of Christianity. This brings the focus away from that of a commercialized holiday, and to one that is centered on togetherness and sacredness. It is a dually solemn and joyous celebration of faith, as we remember both the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. Easter is celebrated by Christians as a joyous holiday because it represents the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament and the revelation of God’s salvific plan for all of humankind. In commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus, Easter also celebrates the defeat of death and the hope of salvation. Belief in the bodily — literal, not metaphorical — resurrection of Jesus Christ is the bedrock on which every other Christian belief rests. It’s how we know that Jesus was not merely a preacher, or a good teacher, but actually the Son of God. He was pierced for our transgressions, and he rose from the grave three days later. For Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, many mainline Protestants, as well as other, smaller liturgical groups; the preparation for Easter begins 40 days in advance (albeit on a different date for Orthodox church goers) with Ash Wednesday. The Lenten season is one of fasting and penance in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. Even those who do not observe the Lenten fasts often attend special services throughout the Lenten season to commemorate dates of religious significance, like Palm Sunday and Good Friday. But, the common thread for Christians everywhere, is that Easter Sunday means church attendance. Regardless of denomination, many churches will also be holding potlucks, as well as Easter egg hunts for the children in their congregations. Resurrection Sunday services in the West vary from denomination to denomination. Catholics will celebrate a special mass. Many liturgical denominations will include sacraments, such as baptisms, confirmations, and communion during Easter services. Evangelical and non-denominational churches may include less orthodox expressions of worship and praise, such as dance performances, skits, artwork, and special music to commemorate the day. Many churches conduct services with both traditional and contemporary elements. It is worth mentioning that while most of Western Europe, North and South America will commemorate the Resurrection this Sunday, many of our brothers and sisters in Iraq will be celebrating Orthodox Easter, which takes place a week later. Their traditions, shaped by the earliest Christians, stand firm against years of adversity. For many in Mosul and other areas of Northern Iraq, olive branches are distributed to farmers on Palm Sunday, who plant them on their land and pray for bountiful harvests. Women often dye eggs in red and yellow as a sign of joy and love. The eggs are dyed using traditional materials, such as onion skin and lentils. Also on this day, Christians will eat a special kind of bread called “Tkharca Daochgan,” a yellow-dyed bread made from bulgur and wheat flour. During the morning before church, this bread is distributed in the community, particularly among the poor and needy. After church, Christians will return home for a meat dish called “pacha.” In some regions of Iraq, both Christians and Muslims work together to prepare sweets for the holiday. The week before Easter, they often work alongside one another to prepare desserts for the Feast of Alklejeh. Among these sweets is kleicha, an Assyrian pastry considered to be the national cookie of Iraq. Kleicha is a sweet, round or half-moon shaped cookie that often resembles a small cinnamon roll. Its spiral center consists of layers of sweet foods like dates and spices like cardamom, wedged between the layers of sweet dough. Other variations may be stuffed and oblong and may be topped with walnuts or sesame seeds. Kleicha can be made in a variety of ways and is as unique as the person baking it. For Iraqi Christians, the Thursday before Easter is also an important observance, as many will go to church and contemplate the Last Supper. On Good Friday, many Iraqi Christians will attend mass and services to reflect on the crucifixion of Christ. Many may also attend passion plays, reenactments of the crucifixion, which are popular with Christians around the world during Holy Week. On Sunday morning, Iraqi Christians, some on the 17th and others on the 24th, will gather to celebrate Christ’s resurrection with all Christians around the world with messages, sacraments, and songs. Regardless of orthodoxy or expression, all of Christendom will be celebrating Christ’s resurrection as a victory. We look forward to seeing the wonderful Easter traditions that will be part of our Easter celebrations at the Olive Tree Center among our refugees in Madaba, Jordan. American FRRME supports all efforts to create a better future for Christians in Iraq and the Middle East. As we learn more about the traditions of Christians in Iraq and across the globe, it is our sincere wish that Christians find unity in our celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ this Easter. Happy Easter from American FRRME!
- American FRRME | Meet Nadira
Meet Nadira By Alice Seeley Published On October 26, 2021 Meet Nadira, one of the many refugees who are eternally grateful to St. George’s Medical Clinic. Her story is one of trauma, survival, and hope. Originally from Baghdad, Nadira’s husband was killed in a suicide bombing in 2005. His body was so severely burnt Nadira was barely able to identify him. In 2014, Nadira traveled to Mosul for her daughter’s wedding. During the wedding service, the priest announced that ISIS was on their way to the Church and the congregation should flee. Fortunately, Nadira and the rest of the congregation escaped safely. However, months later, on Christmas Eve, Nadira’s son was shopping in Baghdad when he was attacked and shot in the leg and the stomach. The attackers escaped and were not charged. Amid these stories of tragedy, Nadira recounts the day her grandchild was born. Her daughter was extremely overdue and urgently needed a C-Section but could not afford it. Nadira turned to St. George’s for help. “I came to St. George’s and Father Faiz arranged for the surgery to be done quickly. The doctors said that if the operation had been left any longer my daughter and her baby would have died,” said Nadira. Thanks to your generous support Nadira’s family and many others have the access to the medical care they need!