Dear Father Cervellera
I would like to inform you that we have received the sum of 123, 297 Euros sent by you, AsiaNews, as well as 270,000 Euros sent by the PIME non-profit foundation. This is the second donation sent by AsiaNews, to our bishop's committee to help Iraqi Christian refugees. Your donation goes directly to the Committees bank account and is registered in your name with all the details of the donation: the date, the sum, the organization that makes the donation. Instead, I am writing to give you some details about this aid, the way in which this money is spent. We are also available to respond to any questions regarding donations.
The support we receive is very important to us because it helps in the daily lives of our refugees, which is not easy at all.
Today the refugees are suffering a very difficult situation, especially because winter has already started and the rains are due. The difficulties arise from the lack of food, warm clothes, blankets against the cold ... There are also difficulties regarding health issues. Thousands of families cannot pay rent on the apartments where they are living because it is very high, and they are out of work. Every day the need and demand for safe housing and shelter increases. Those who live in places paid for or provided by the Church - with the help of charitable organizations, such as our friends at AsiaNews - are facing other difficulties such as lack of work and lack of money. Although these lodgings are overcrowded and full of people.
The donations that come to the Church from various sources, are spent to find decent housing for our Christians such as a house instead of a tent, or to find a place for those who live in a school or in overcrowded classrooms. The aid is spent on medicines, that the needy cannot afford. Rent for houses or hostels for refugees, or to build caravans. This is the most important use for such aid, because the majority of refugees cannot pay the rent of the houses.
In our dramatic situation every now and then we glimpse a ray of light from heaven, which gives us the courage to continue our life of faith despite all the difficulties and problems. For example, we received some testimonials from our remaining faithful in the Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain. I've heard that a few days ago in the village of Bartella, a family with one of their neighbors had remained there even after the arrival of the army of the Islamic State (or Isis). They were caught as the attempted to leave the village, were arrested and forced to convert to Islam. The neighbor refused and this was immediately killed. But the woman, fearing for the fate of her children, said the formula by which we convert to Islam. But on arriving at Erbil she repented and asked for forgiveness, returning to the Christian faith. Another story concerns two elderly women remained in a village called Karemless, on the Nineveh Plains. These courageous women met the Isis militants who wanted to force them to convert to Islam. Instead they argued with courage, defending their Christian faith and saying that everyone has the freedom to profess their own faith ... They argued for about an hour with the militants that threatened to kill them, but without having to convert. In the end they let them go. I have personally met the two women because they are in my diocese. I've seen them happy and full of trust in God and in themselves. They did not renounce their faith and gave a great testimony.
Our Christian faith compels us to help others in spite of the diversity of religions and ethnicities. This is why our Church also helps others who are in the same crisis such as Yazidis and members of other minority called Kakai: several of them are with our Christian refugees, and we help them all.
This whole crisis makes life difficult for the refugees, including my own as a pastor of a diocese marked by 11 years of pain, with some martyrs, many families who have emigrated and now with the arrival of the Isis, which has emptied the diocese of all its members.
Our daily life is a continual watching and listening to the refugees and their needs, and trying to do the best we can for them. My work as a bishop has become concrete action to meet the daily needs of my faithful. At the same time, in this very difficult humanitarian situation, it is important to find the most adequate way to support the spiritual dimensions of those affected. It is complex and not easy when you have to find a balance between the daily humanitarian needs in a very difficult crisis and the importance of keeping the spirit of Christianity in the soul of our people.
But in the end, we thank God for everything, including the situation we bishops are faced with, because it teaches us more and more, how we can be faithful servants to Him and to His people.
+ Amel Nona
Archbishop of Mosul of the Chaldeans
Head of the Catholic Bishops' Committee for Aid to Christian Refugees