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  • American FRRME | We Mourn the Passing

    We Mourn The Passing Of Executive Director Brigadier General David E Greer. By Alice Seeley Published On August 3, 2020 With great sadness, we announce the passing of our Executive Director, Brigadier General David E. Greer. General Greer passed away on Thursday, July 30th, 2020. He was 69 years old. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, General Greer graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1972 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery Corps. After active duty with the Second Armored Division at Ft. Hood, Texas, he transitioned to the United States Army Reserve, then to the Tennessee Army National Guard and served in various command and staff positions within the 30th Separate Armored Brigade, the 196th Field Artillery Brigade, and State Headquarters. He served as the Deputy Commanding General at the U.S. Army Field Artillery School in Fort Sill, OK, and culminated his career as the Land Component Commander of the Tennessee Army National Guard. He also served as President of the National Guard Association of Tennessee. He was the recipient of numerous major awards and decorations for invaluable service to his country over his 36-year military career. ​ After retirement from the Armed Forces in 2008, General Greer worked for the State Department with the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team. He met his wife, Susan at a work conference; they were married in Baghdad in a security compound in 2009, while they were working for the US State Department there. ​ In 2011, the Greers moved back to Maine and retired, but David’s work was not over. In 2012, he was asked to head American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East and served as Executive Director until his death. ​ Retired U.S. Army Colonel John Busterud and others who served with General Greer on the American FRMME board, remember him as “the embodiment of a servant-leader.” Colonel Busterud continues “General Greer leaves a legacy of distinguished service to A-FRRME and to the marginalized Christians of the Middle East.” ​ Former Ambassador Richard Swett remembers that he “not only made the trains run on time, he did it with class and consistency that made everyone feel secure that we could efficiently use all our resources for the important work at hand.” Swett adds “He was a gentleman of great character whom I and many others will dearly miss, although we will keep him close always in our hearts and minds.” ​ Connie Wilson, founder of Global Capital Connections, describes General Greer as an “American patriot and friend of God. Throughout difficult times with our organization, David always was the pillar that didn’t falter, pouring out categoric wisdom that made sense and brought stability. He always had time for anyone who called upon him and came up with ideas for resolving issues with leadership – but no intimidation.” ​ General Greer had a strong Christian faith and attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ben Lomond, California. At the time of his death, General Greer lived in Santa Cruz, California. He is survived by his wife Susan, daughter Kathryn Harvey, her husband Chad and their son Caleb, and stepson, Richard Depolo. ​ We’re so grateful for General Greer’s years of service for American FRRME. Please join us in praying for General Greer’s family at this time.

  • American FRRME | News - Pg 3

    NEWS 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6 Meet Enaam By Keely Jahns Published On April 21, 2022 Meet Enaam, a teacher from Iraq, whose life changed when ISIS invaded Qaraqosh. Life was happy and stable for Enaam and her family, despite the challenges faced in her country before the insurgency. “Qaraqosh is a Christian town. It is… AFRRME Updates 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… AFRRME Updates Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine: Reflections on the Global Refugee Crisis By Keely Jahns Published On March 31, 2022 As of March 30, 2022, 4 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine. Millions are internally displaced amidst gruesome fighting, and millions have fled the country into neighboring nations such as Lithuania, Romania, Moldova, Hungary, and Poland. The International… AFRRME Updates David E. Greer Scholarship: A Legacy to Enrich Lives By Keely Jahns Published On March 24, 2022 The General David E. Greer Scholarship Fund has been established in memory of the organization’s former Executive Director, Brigadier General David Greer who lost his life in a tragic accident in 2020. “David had a deep affection for the people… AFRRME Updates General Greer Scholarship Fund to Provide Education to Refugees in Jordan By Keely Jahns Published On March 10, 2022 In the West, most children are afforded a K-12 education. In places like the United States, as well as in many European countries, children are guaranteed an option of free public education. This sets children up for success in life,… AFRRME Updates Catholic University Offers “Pope Francis Scholarships” to Iraqi Christians By Keely Jahns Published On March 3, 2022 Education impacts your entire life. That’s why Catholic University is offering Christians in Erbil the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Along with many who stayed and rode out the turmoil, there are countless Christians returning to Iraq nearly eight years… AFRRME Updates New Catholic Church and University Bringing Hope, Help, and Healing to Christians in Erbil By Keely Jahns Published On February 24, 2022 “Christians in Iraq will not become a museum exhibit for religious tourists to come and view.” – Father Benedict Kiely It was August 2014. Erbil and the roads out of Northern Iraq were filled with hundreds of thousands of Christians… AFRRME Updates As Tensions Rise at the Iraqi-Syrian Border, Iraqi Christians Cling to the Hope of a Peaceful Future By Keely Jahns Published On February 10, 2022 Jihadist tensions along the Iraq-Syria border are being watched carefully by Iraqi Christians. It was not long ago that ISIS waged war on Christians and Yazidis in the Nineveh Plain, attacking towns, burning churches, forcing conversions, and killing families. Most… AFRRME Updates Priest Murdered in Northwest Pakistan By Keely Jahns Published On February 3, 2022 On January 30th, 2022, Bishop William Siraj, Father Naaem Patrick, and a third, yet unnamed priest had just finished celebrating Sunday Mass in the Gulbahar neighbourhood of Peshawar City, Pakistan. The holy men were walking home in peace, when the… AFRRME Updates Action Needed to Keep Christians from Leaving the Middle East By Keely Jahns Published On January 26, 2022 Jihadist tensions along the Iraq-Syria border are being watched carefully by Iraqi Christians. It was not long ago that ISIS waged war on Christians and Yazidis in the Nineveh Plain, attacking towns, burning churches, forcing conversions, and killing families. Most… AFRRME Updates Christians Struggle to be Counted in Iraq’s Democratic Process By Keely Jahns Published On January 17, 2022 Christians Struggle to be Counted in Iraq’s Democratic Process 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,… AFRRME Updates Christian Villages Emptied Once Again By Keely Jahns Published On December 6, 2021 Iraqi Christians are under siege once again. Christian villages across Kurdistan are bracing for bombardment. On November 6th, 2021, Turkish bombs fell over the town of Father Samir Youssef, an Iraqi priest who has seen wave after wave of violence… AFRRME Updates 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6

  • American FRRME | News

    NEWS 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6 Iraqi Christians Remember “The Black Day” Published August 7, 2023 American FRRME Chairman, Col. Max Wood joined Adam McManus on “The World View in 5 Minutes” to speak about the ninth anniversary of “The Black Day” - the day when Iraqi Christians were forced from their homeland by the ISIS insurgency and the significance of this solemn anniversary. AFRRME Updates 2003 – 2023 The Challenges Facing Iraqi Christians Finding a Way Forward Published May 2023 The past twenty years have been a transformative time for Iraq’s Christian community, who have watched their population decline due to violence, marginalization, and other types of persecution from extremist groups such as Dae’sh, also known as ISIS. Despite these challenges, many Iraqi Christians have a strong love towards their country. AFRRME Updates Hundreds March on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in Support of the Persecuted Church Worldwide By Keely Jahns Published On September 29, 2022 Adapted from an article by Christian Headlines Last week we explored how digital church culture is thriving amongst the persecuted church in Iraq. We must remember any time that we talk about the church in Iraq and the greater Middle… AFRRME Updates Iraqi Christians Build Thriving Digital Discipleship Culture By Keely Jahns Published On September 23, 2022 Mission Network News recently covered a story about the growing culture of “digital church” within Iraq. Iraq is home to an ancient community of Christians, and within that community there are Christians of every background and denomination. Having been deeply… ​ AFRRME Updates New Patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East Opens its Doors in Erbil By Keely Jahns Published On September 16, 2022 The Assyrian Church of the East recently opened its new Patriarchate in Erbil, the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The inauguration ceremony was attended by area officials, including governmental officials, community leaders, local religious leaders and those with… ​ AFRRME Updates A Prayer of Blessing at The Olive Tree Center By American FRRME Staff Published On 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… ​ ​ AFRRME Updates Inter-Organizational Cooperation Aims to Bring Clean Water to Sinjar By Keely Jahns Published On September 1, 2022 Interorganizational Cooperation Aims to Bring Clean Water to Sinjar Like the Christian communities of Northern Iraq, when the ISIS insurgents swept across the Nineveh Plain in 2014, over 400,000 Yazidis were also displaced. This year, fighting has displaced thousands more.… ​ AFRRME Updates Displays of Hope, Help, and Healing from the August 6th Remembrance Event at the Olive Tree Center By Keely Jahns Published On August 25, 2022 Hope, Help, and Healing On August 6th, 2022, the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation (American FRRME) hosted a remembrance event with the Iraqi Christian community at the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan, to commemorate the eighth anniversary of… AFRRME Updates “Stunning Archaeological Findings” Discovered at the Church of Saint Thomas in Mosul, Shedding New Light on the First Century Church in Iraq By Keely Jahns Published On August 18, 2022 Adapted from a story at All Arab News Christianity has been indigenous to Iraq for thousands of years. Many of the first Christians hailed from the region which is now Iraq, particularly the Nineveh Plain. The Nineveh Plain was one… AFRRME Updates August 6th Event at Olive Tree Center Garners Worldwide Media Attention for Iraqi Refugees By Keely Jahns Published On August 11, 2022 On August 6th, 2022, Iraqi refugees and friends of the community gathered at the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the ISIS invasion of the Nineveh Plain. ​ ​ AFRRME Updates Iraqi Christian Refugees to Gather at Olive Tree Center to Observe “The Black Day” By Keely Jahns Published On August 4, 2022 On August 6th, 2022, refugees and displaced persons from the Nineveh Plain will be observing the eight-year anniversary of the 2014 ISIS insurgency. This is known by Iraqi Christians as “The Black Day.” It is a solemn observance of remembrance… ​ AFRRME Updates American FRRME Chairman Discusses Ongoing Persecution of Iraqi Christians By American FRRME Staff Published On July 29, 2022 American FRRME Chairman, Col. Max Wood joined American Sunrise with Ed Henry and Karyn Turk, on Real America’s Voice, to talk about the ongoing persecution of Iraqi Christians. Watch here: ​ AFRRME Updates “Boxing Sister,” Program Helps Internally Displaced Women Kickbox Their Way to Healing By Keely Jahns Published On July 28, 2022 Adapted from a story by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. A boxing project implemented by an NGO Innovation Award winner is empowering displaced Yazidi women and girls in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The “Boxing Sister” program helps displaced… AFRRME Updates National Leaders Show Bipartisan Support for Persecuted Church in DC Summit By Keely Jahns Published On July 21, 2022 In June 2022, the plight of the persecuted church was highlighted during the second annual Summit on International Religious Freedom (IRF) in Washington, D.C. The conference saw bipartisan support by leaders from both sides of the aisle, as well as… AFRRME Updates 1 - - 2 - - 3 - - 4 - - 5 - - 6

  • American FRRME | Meet Sahar

    Meet Sahar Sahar (names have been changed) is a 35-year-old refugee mother of four. Originally from Qaraqosh (in Northern Iraq) Sahar and her family left Qaraqosh in the middle of the night on August 8th, 2014 when ISIS arrived. ​ Fortunately, they safely made it to the “Ayshtaytoo” refugee camp in Erbil, the capital city of Iraq. Two days after arriving, Sahar gave birth to her youngest son. In Ayshtaytoo the family of 6 shared a tiny living space with another family, and there were 8 other families within their unit space. The refugee camp offered Tae Kwon Do classes for children and Sahar’s 9-year-old son loved attending the classes. Sahar noticed that the class instructor frequently complimented her children. One day, when her son refused to attend the class, Sahar found out the instructor had molested him. Sahar’s son suffered severe trauma from this, including pain and nightmares. Sahar’s family no longer felt safe in the refugee camp. They borrowed money to move to Jordan where they could live safely. In Madaba, Jordan, where they live now, Sahar’s family is able to live without fear, yet they still face daily struggles. While they have support from American FRRME and their local church, they still struggle to pay rent and their children’s school tuition. Despite the many hardships, they are extremely grateful that they are safely together. And without the support of American FRRME Sahar’s family and families like them would have no means of support. 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 | You're Invited

    You’re Invited! By Alice Seeley Published On July 21, 2021 Join us via Zoom for a special, live event on August 6th at the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan, to observe the seven year anniversary of the ISIS invasion of the Nineveh Plain. We will be celebrating the survivors and their growth at the Olive Tree Center. There will be exclusive performances of music, dance, drama, and poetry that share the unique culture of each refugee and glorifies Christ. Each performance will serve to show how the refugees are finding healing at the center and to share their wealth of cultural knowledge and creativity with the world.

  • American FRRME | Discipleship Culture

    New Patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East Opens its Doors in Erbil by Keely Jahns September 16, 2022 The Assyrian Church of the East recently opened its new Patriarchate in Erbil , the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region . The inauguration ceremony was attended by area officials, including governmental officials, community leaders, local religious leaders and those with diplomatic ties. “It was then where the foundation for co-existence and brotherhood was laid out, and there is nothing more beautiful than a country where everyone lives as brothers,” local political leader Masoud Barzani said during a speech at the inauguration ceremony. ​ “The Assyrian Church of the East today opened its new Patriarchate in Erbil. It’s a move decades in the making. The patriarchal seat left Iraq in 1933, but always with an eye on returning. Construction of a new facility in Erbil was announced in 2006,” Joe Snell, an Assyrian and the Middle East reporter with Al-Monitor, wrote on Twitter. ​ Regarding the significance of opening this Patriarchate in Erbil, Joseph Slewah, a former Iraqi lawmaker from Nineveh who led the Warka bloc, told a news agency that opening churches in Iraq is not enough in ending the mayhem against Christians in the war-torn country. ​ “The Christian people in Iraq, including the Assyrians, are prosecuted across the country, including in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The stones in the churches have no value if the Christian people are being prosecuted, feel they are second-degree citizens, evacuated from their lands and their political will denied across the country,” Slewah said. ​ “There are less than half a million Christians left in all of Iraq, out of six million in 2003. In Baghdad, there were more than 750,000. Today, there are no more than 75,000,” explains William Warda, President of the Hammurabi organization for the protection of religious minorities, in an interview with the news organization The New Arab in 2020. Any and all positive developments for Christians in the Nineveh Plain are encouraging. American FRRME’s mission is to rebuild safe communities for Christians living in and returning to Iraq. 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.

  • American FRRME | Bringing Life Back

    Bringing life back to the Nineveh Plain By Alice Seeley Published On April 8, 2021 Through generous donations, American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East was able to restore the only Olive Oil Soap factory in the Bashiqa area! This project was part of our Nineveh SEED employment program. Destroyed by the ISIS invasion in 2014, this restored factory is now bringing life back to the Nineveh Plain! Before the ISIS invasion, this area was famous for its olive oil products. ISIS deliberately destroyed the ancient olive groves in the Nineveh Plain as a way of destroying livelihoods and hope in the area. This factory was completely destroyed by ISIS and was non-operational. Now this factory is functioning and is fully equipped with the necessary tools and equipment to produce olive oil products again! Restoring the factory has increased production and provided more job opportunities in this part of the Nineveh Plain. American FRRME is delighted to work with local partners to revive this industry and restore life to the Nineveh Plain. Through your donations, American FRRME will be able to help more people through our Nineveh SEED program! ​ 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 | Meet Leka and Ashwaq

    Meet Leka and Ashwaq By Alice Seeley Published On March 30, 2021 In 2014, sisters Leka and Ashwaq fled to Jordan from Qaraqosh when ISIS invaded. Leka has 3 sons and a daughter, Ban. She was only a few weeks pregnant at the time with her youngest son, Androus “Nando.” Nando only knows life as a refugee. Ashwaq, Leka’s younger sister, has 3 kids, Cassandra, Clara, and Stavro, who are all active members of the Olive Tree Center in Jordan. For these sisters, it is vital that they are able to preserve their culture and educate their kids on what it means to be Iraqi. For both Leka and Ashwaq, their faith is what got them through the most difficult times, and continues to get them through the difficult circumstances they face every day. As religious minorities, they are not provided for by the Jordanian government and rely on the support of churches and organizations such as American FRRME. ​ When asked what the Olive Tree Center means to them Ashwaq said, “This center gives us a safe space for our children to be free from worry, it allows them to be children for once and to be able to take their minds off of the daily struggles that living as a refugee comes with and to see them be able to learn English, and guitar, music, and art, it makes me so happy and feel God’s blessing in this center.” Ashwaq and Leka helped with the founding of the Olive Tree Center and now lead outreach initiatives at the Center, such as baking and distributing cookies and other goods to other struggling refugees and members of the community. Leka also led the mask-making initiative to help other refugees and community members attend church! She is very enthusiastic about her work. “American FRRME provided me with the tools to do something I love- sew! I loved being able to help the community during this difficult time of COVID,” she said. “It gave me energy and encouraged me to not lose hope when we were stuck at home. This kept me going. It is a blessing to be able to help others from the community, it fills our hearts with joy when we can help others as we’ve been helped. Thank you American FRRME, thank you and God bless you and all who support us. We will always remember you.” ​ 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 | St. George's Church

    St. George’s Anglican Church and Outreach Bringing Hope, Help, and Healing to Baghdad By Keely Jahns Published On May 4, 2022 St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad had its doors shuttered during Saddam Hussein’s regime. After the end of the dictator’s rule, it opened its doors once again, but not without facing many challenges. Built in 1936 to honor fallen British soldiers, it served as both a symbol of Christianity as well as the West, in a land that is aggressively opposed to its religious minorities and prone to extremism. Today, the church is run by and for Iraqis. It is shepherded by Reverend Faez Jerjees, Iraq’s only ordained Anglican clergyman. Canon Faez has been involved with St. George’s since 2006. He has been recognized by both the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and Queen Elizabeth II for his humanitarian work. In July 2020, he was honored with the award of an MBE – Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He was awarded with this title for his “services to the Anglican, Christian and local community in Baghdad.” ​ As the only Anglican church in Iraq, in a country which is ranked 14th on Open Doors’ World Watch List for Christian persecution, St. George’s Anglican Church is a beacon of light for Christians of all backgrounds in one of the most tumultuous places on earth. St. Thomas carried the gospel to Iraq in the 1st century AD, and it is still home to one of the oldest bodies of Christians in the world. Sadly, their numbers have been dwindling year after year, particularly since the 2014 ISIS insurgency, reaching levels of “near extinction,” in 2019 . ​ St. George’s stands as a symbol of hope to those who remain. Located in Baghdad’s Red Zone, St. George’s has been bombarded with many rockets and threats of violence over the years, but nothing has been able to stop the church from being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in the city. Their spirit of service has gone a long way in helping to unite the people of Baghdad. ​ St. George’s operates a medical and dental clinic that provides free care to the citizens of Baghdad. It is open to anyone, regardless of their religious or ethnic background. It has become such a unifying force, that both Muslims and Christians work on staff as doctors, nurses, and dentists at the clinic, providing care to their fellow Baghdadis. ​ St. George’s also operates a K-5 school that offers superior instruction, safe facilities, and clean restrooms. The Kindergarten, which has been operating for several years, is one of the most highly esteemed childhood educational programs in Baghdad. ​ Anglican School of the Redeemer – al-Fadi, is a primary school (K-5) that serves children in the surrounding area of Baghdad. At its opening in 2018, it was celebrated as a unifying force across denominational lines, and among the community’s Christian and Muslim families. The Kindergarten, which has operated many years prior to the addition of grades 1-5, is comprised of children from mostly Muslim families, who trust the school’s ability to provide a safe venue for education in English and Arabic, and its teaching of strong moral values. ​ This is a critical bridge in a region that has been inundated in sectarian violence. It is commendable and inspiring that St. George’s has become a trusted fixture in a society that is so often divided by religious and cultural differences. ​ In the words of Canon Faez in 2017, “[We,] want to also [teach] them how to live together, how they can learn together, eat together and love each other. This is very important for the future in Iraq.” ​ Despite many challenges, St. George’s continues to build bridges of healing in Baghdad. But, without people like you, our mission would be impossible to achieve. American FRRME is the primary US organization funding St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad. American FRRME is committed to long-term, sustainable programs for minorities in the Middle East, like those run by St. George’s. Prayer and support from our faithful partners in the United States help St. George’s to not only survive but also to thrive.

  • American FRRME | Pope Francis Scholarship

    Catholic University Offers “Pope Francis Scholarships” to Iraqi Christians By Keely Jahns Published On March 3, 2022 Education impacts your entire life. That’s why Catholic University is offering Christians in Erbil the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Along with many who stayed and rode out the turmoil, there are countless Christians returning to Iraq nearly eight years after ISIS took everything. These Internally Displaced People are often returning to homes and businesses that have either been destroyed, or taken over by someone else.They are in sore need of tools to restart their lives, like apprenticeships and educational opportunities. Many are not finding the opportunities for a bright future in the communities which they are returning to, putting the region at risk of another mass exodus. There is a true gap in educational opportunities, both in Iraq and in areas across the Middle East that have hosted refugees from Iraq and Syria, in primary and secondary education. In a 2017 survey of Syrian refugees, it was reported that only a third of their children were enrolled in school. Since then, educational access has improved, but is by no means perfect; nor is it completely free in every area. ​ Secondary education and university have even poorer attendance rates, as many refugees must drop out of school in order for theirs and their families’ survival. Apprenticeship is another important postsecondary form of education that is needed for Internally Displaced Persons, as well as those who remained, to establish their lives in Northern Iraq and the Nineveh Plain. Nineveh SEED has many programs to help Iraqi Christians rebuild their lives and livelihoods. There is a AFRRME sponsored chicken farm, as well as a bakery in Qaraqosh, greenhouses in Karamles, a beekeeping operation in the Sinjar and the Maqloob mountains, an olive oil factory in Alqoot, and a bulgur wheat factory in Teleskuff. Still, educational opportunities are needed for Christians, Yazidis, and other displaced minorities as they return to, and even remain in the region. There is a genuine risk that those who returned or remain on the Nineveh Plain will once again leave for better opportunities elsewhere. ​ Education, especially postsecondary education, will allow Iraqi Christians a wealth of advancement not only in Iraq, but around the world. In order to incentivize Iraqi Christians to stay in and return to Iraq, the Catholic University in Erbil is offering a program to fund the educations of those who have lost everything. The university is working with humanitarian groups like Aid to the Church in Need to provide 1.7 million dollars in “Pope Francis Scholarships.” ​ This comes a year after Pope Francis’ 2021 visit to Iraq and the Middle East, in which he was “moved to the deepest part of his soul,” by the plight of Christians across the Nineveh Plain and the Greater Middle East. According to Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, it was “possibly the most significant trip of the pontificate.” ​ Francis expressed “support” not only to “the Christian communities of Iraq and of the region who have been persecuted and suffered” but also to “the other persecuted communities such as the Yazidis for whom he has enormous sympathy.” ​ According to the Archbishop of Erbil, founder of the university, this scholarship will help keep Iraqi Christians in Iraq and give them the opportunity for a bright future. ​ “The CUE model encourages the whole family to stay and not to emigrate; their children will have an excellent education to obtain work and therefore a future in Iraq to support themselves and their parents.” ​ “If young Christians can be given an opportunity to gain a good education, then they will remain. ACN has already done everything possible to help the Christians to remain in their native land, by investing in the reconstruction of their homes, their churches and essential infrastructure. Now is the time to invest in the young people of the country,” said Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of Aid to the Church in Need, an NGO that also helps support efforts to reintegrate Iraqi Christians into their homelands. ​ The CUE currently has 280 students in four different years, working to obtain degrees in courses that vary from Architecture and Medical Laboratory Science (MLS), to accounting and English. More departments such as Pharmacy will open next year allowing even more choice for students to be able to come to the university. Crucially, though, students are exposed to a Christian ethos and Catholic Social Teaching they cannot find anywhere else in Iraq. ​ Under the banner of the “Pope Francis Scholarship, a cohort of 128 students, comprising 113 Christians, 12 Yazidi and 3 Muslims, supported by ACN, have started the academic year of 2022/2023. ​ CUE currently has 280 students in four different years, working to obtain degrees in courses that vary from Architecture and Medical Laboratory Science (MLS), to accounting and English. More departments such as Pharmacy will open next year allowing even more choice for students to be able to come to the university. Crucially, though, students are exposed to a Christian ethos and Catholic Social Teaching they cannot find anywhere else in Iraq. ​ Since it was founded in 2015, the Catholic University in Erbil has enjoyed great success, and is already ranked 41 out of 250 higher education institutions in Iraq. All teaching and study is in English. Archbishop Warda hopes to see it climb into the top 10 within a few years. But alongside academic excellence, the valuable fruits of this university are the promotion of social cohesion and interreligious harmony in a country still recovering from nearly two decades of conflict and persecution. ​ These efforts are not unlike AFRRME’s efforts to provide primary and secondary education to the refugees served by our Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan. Our General Greer Scholarship Fund is designed to provide educational opportunities for children in primary and secondary school that will give them an excellent foundation for post-secondary learning at universities like Catholic University and other institutions around the world. ​ In most of the western world, the vast majority of children attend K-12 schools. Not everyone is so privileged, however, and this is a disparity we see very often with the refugees we work with. Out of the 7.2 million refugee children throughout the world, only 3.7 million have the opportunity to attend school. Globally 91% of children attend elementary school, whereas only 63% of refugee children have this opportunity. Of that 63%, only 24% attend high school. 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. ​ Education protects refugees and their children from forced recruitment into armed groups, child labor, and sexual exploitation. Education empowers refugees by giving them the knowledge and skills to rebuild their lives and communities. We are passionate about providing education to those displaced by sectarian violence, to prevent these outcomes and encourage all of those we serve to pursue bright futures. ​ AFRRME supports all efforts to help Iraqi Christians rebuild their lives through education. Our own unique programs, like the General Greer Scholarship Fund, are helping displaced Iraqi Christians seeking refuge in Jordan an opportunity to attend school. Will you say a prayer for Christians and other minority religious groups seeking primary, secondary, and post-secondary education in the Middle East? Will you offer your support to ensure that the children of Iraqi refugees can get the kind of education that will allow them to pursue honest trades and university educations?

  • 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 | Children Don't Have Access

    Children In The Middle East Don’t Have Access To Remote Learning By Alice Seeley Published On September 16, 2020 The past few months have been filled with debate over the reopening of schools and universities. Many schools are adopting a hybrid approach of part-time classes and remote learning and some are entirely remote due to COVID-19. Due to these circumstances, education is not available to all children. Not all families can afford to have a computer, internet access, or a stable home environment to ensure their children are all able to do their schoolwork. These challenges are especially common for refugee families in the Middle East, particularly those in Iraq, Jordan, or Syria. ​ Recent studies have shown that close to half a billion children around the world lack access to education because they lack the proper equipment to study from home. Of that total, an estimated 37 million children in the Middle East and North Africa do not have access to equipment for remote learning. In these places, education has often already been interrupted due to war or displacement. In Syria, for example, the civil war and the refugee crisis have meant that millions of children are out of school. In addition, more than a third of the schools in the country were badly damaged during the war or are being used as shelters. And most refugee parents want their children to have an education but can not afford to have them not work just so the family can survive. ​ Refugees, like all people around the world, deserve an opportunity to be educated. Having access to education gives refugee children routine and 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, we have underwritten tuition for refugees attending private schools, provided books and other materials to schools in settlement camps, funded the construction and provisioning of an all-girls school in a settlement camp in Kurdistan, funded Kindergarten and university expenses for refugee youth in Kurdistan, and taught English classes to both children and adults in Jordan, Kurdistan, and Iraq. Your generous donation will help us 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 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.

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