Rome (AsiaNews) - A month after the start of the campaign "Adopt a Christian from Mosul", AsiaNews has already sent the first instalment of the funds it has raised up to 31 August: € 279,219.96 (US$ 362,000), more than € 350,000 (US$ 450,000) if we include the donations received by the Fondazione Pime Onlus in early September, which will be sent within a month.
All donations go - as Mar Louis Sako, patriarch of Baghdad, noted - to the Committee of the bishops of Kurdistan, which is coping with the need to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled Mosul, Qaraqosh and other areas of northern Iraq after they were violently seized by the Islamic State.
The "Adopt a Christian from Mosul" campaign stems from a desire to participate in a however small a way to the suffering of our brothers and sisters who were expelled from Mosul like a bunch of villains because of their faith, forced to choose between conversion to Islam, submission, flight or death.
The fundraiser has also become a way to meet quickly and by concrete means such needs, rather than settle for cursing Muslims, the UN, the Arab States, Europe, the United States, and those "who do nothing."
Likewise, such direct action is a way to follow Pope Francis who has continued to issue messages to the international community to "protect all those affected or threatened by the violence, and to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others."
Since the beginning, Patriarch Sako and Iraqi bishops have helped us to understand that not only the Christian community's very survival was at stake, but so was that of Iraq as a multi-ethnic country, not to mention that of a Middle East as a region open to dialogue and respect for every ethnic group and religion.
For this reason, they are using aid to support not only Christians, but also all the refugees in need of food, clothing and housing, helping all of them to remain in their country and resist the temptation of emigration.
By the same token, Iraqi bishops - like us - do not want the international community to provide visas (an easy way to clear its conscience) but justice and security for the people in northern Iraq, stopping and neutralising the aggressors of the Islamic State.
Usually, wars are started in August to avoid close media scrutiny. Yet, the response to our campaign, launched in August, a time of carefree holiday, was surprising, to us first of all.
Donations have come from all over the world: Italy (80 per cent), South Korea, United States, Malta, Great Britain, Spain, Canada, Hong Kong, Vietnam, New Zealand, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Australia, Poland , Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Argentina, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, Hungary, Colombia, and Luxembourg.
Lay people, priests and religious; missionaries; individuals, couples and families; children, who wanted to donate their savings; professionals, restaurants, cultural foundations; dioceses and parishes have responded to our appeal and raised funds for our "Iraqi brothers."
Donations range from as low one to two euro up to 5,000. Some chose to adopt "a Christian from Mosul" on a monthly basis, and have already paid their second instalment, for the month of September. Others have dedicated their contribution to a loved one who passed away.
One of the messages that moved us the most came from a grandfather who sent two euros, money saved by his granddaughter. Another came from a jobless and sick woman, who despite her situation, sent five euros, the amount needed to buy food for a day for a refugee from Iraq.
An elderly woman, commenting on her gift, told us: "The small sacrifice we make is nothing compared to the suffering our brothers and sisters are living. Hence, we should not only give but also pray."
Such great generosity at a time of economic crisis shows that solidarity is still alive. In a society bursting with words, which produce immobility and scepticism, such acts of responsibility and personal risk say that the world can change, that it is indeed already changing.
A sincere thanks to all those who have joined the campaign and those who continue to support our persecuted brothers and sisters. Your contribution brings some hope to those who suffer, but also to those who give.
To join the "Adopt a Christian from Mosul" campaign, click here.