09/05/2005, 00.00
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'Charity and Joy' back treating the disabled again in an Iraq under reconstruction

The inter-faith group had not met since 2002 because of the war. Its mission, similar to that of the communities set up by Jean Vanier, is to provide Christian care to the disabled.

Shaqlawa (AsiaNews) – The Third General assembly of the Charity and Joy Community came to a close on September 3 in Shaqlawa, in Iraq's Kurdistan. The meeting had for theme "Get up and walk", words Jesus used in his address to the paralysed. It brought together 220 young volunteers from 26 fraternities operating in cities like Baghdad, Mosul, Duhok, Alqoush and south of Basra. The fraternities belong to different Catholic rites (Chaldean, Syrian and Roman) and other Christian denominations (Syrian-Orthodox and Assyrian). At the meeting, each group celebrated mass according to its own liturgy. The General Assembly ended on an invitation to all "to go back on a mission informed by the Christian faith and lifestyle".
Although annual, the previous meeting was held in 2002 because of the situation prevailing in the country after the US intervention in 2003.

This year, Mgr Paul Faraj Rahho, Archbishop of Mosul and Imad Haseeb, founder of the community, insisted that the meeting had to take place for the benefit of the community.

Imad Haseeb, a layman, founded 'Charity and Joy' in 1986 with the help of Archbishop Rahho, when the latter was a priest at St Paul Parish Church.

Mr Haseeb began his mission with two disabled people who came to the parish church. Since then many young people followed their example and now some 26 fraternities are part of the programme.

Haseeb was not aware that two similar communities existed at the international level— L'Arche (The Arch) and Foi et lumière (Faith and Light), both founded by a former officer in the Royal Canadian Navy, Jean Vanier, in 1950 and 1964 respectively.

When these 'sister' communities found each other in 1993, they created a strong spiritual bond. Jean Vanier came to Iraq to visit the local group and another community— Oasis of Charity and Joy —that Haseeb had set up to take care of needy people without family.

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