12/24/2015, 00.00
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Fr. Samir Youssef: The poor Christmas of Mosul’s refugees and your help

by P. Samir Yousseff
The 3500 refugee families who had stayed in the diocese of Amadiya need food, medicine, warm clothes, beds, houses, work. The appeal of their pastor, along with his heartfelt gratitude for the help received through AsiaNews thanks to the "Adopt a Christian from Mosul" campaign. The signs of Providence.

Amadiya (AsiaNews) - Food, medicine, warm clothes, but also a home and school: These are the basic needs of 3,500 refugee families from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain living in the diocese of Amadiya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the care of the parish priest, Fr. Samir.

In the following Christmas letter that the priest sent to AsiaNews, he thanks our readers and friends for the aid that has arrived through the "Adopt a Christian from Mosul" campaign and he lists "Christmas gifts" of which the refugees still need: camp beds so that the elderly do not have to sleep on the ground, small loans to start small businesses, homes and transportation for children with no school.

But Fr. Samir also speaks about the small "signs" of Providence that arrive each and every day from people who have nothing and who have left everything because of persecution.

Dear friends, we sincerely hope that his appeal will not go unheeded and that all of us can be a sign of Providence. Donations can be made to "Adopt a Christian from Mosul”, by clicking here. We had thought to close this campaign, but our Iraqi brothers and sisters are still in need of our help. (BC)

Dear Father Bernardo Cervellera,

First of all let me begin by thanking you and, through you, all the readers and friends of AsiaNews for the help that you sent to the refugees in November. We have distributed small amounts of money (cash) among the many Christian and yazide families. We are preparing to spend this Christmas season not only materially but also spiritually, with times of prayer, the Rosary, catechism.

The recent visit by the Secretary General of the CEI (Italian Episcopal Conference), Msgr. Nunzio Galantino was an occasion of great joy for all of us.  He opened the Holy Door of Mercy in my parish as a sign of sisterhood with the Italian Catholic Church, because the Holy Door, as Pope Francis says, not only opens in cathedrals, but also in smaller churches.

However, winter has come.  We have started to distribute kerosene for heating, clothes and other items to refugees not only to heat their homes or their containers, but also their hearts and hopefully to help them feel that the Lord Jesus is with them and He loves them.

There are so many refugees: we would like to help them all (the elderly, the sick, children) and give them clothes, kerosene, food and medicine, but unfortunately our resources are very limited. Being powerless to help everyone is truly a terrible feeling. We would like to buy gifts such as shoes, socks, toys for the more than 350 Yazidi and Christian children that we host in my parishes and their families, and to distribute them for Christmas.

The reality is that after more than a year, many families have lost hope of returning to their homes.  This has forced us to start helping them make arrangements for their life here, and the local Chaldean Church is working to find homes for them, and restore old houses or build small houses, so they can start over again.

We are also trying to start small projects to create jobs. Many of these people have no work and we have found that one of the greatest sources of despair is having nothing to do all day every day. For example, we helped one couple to build an oven for baking bread. And we want to help three more to open a convenience store, and also open a barbershop.

Among our Christmas activities we chose 10 women to make sweets (3000 kg!) And we distribute them to the refugee families paying each woman almost $ 350.

Then there is the schooling and transport to school for 820 Yazidis, Christians, and Muslims students. This project was made possible thanks to the help of European churches. Unfortunately we have not been able to find a place at a school for more than 200 children, because the schools are full, despite having up to four school shifts, or because there is no more space on school transport.

We are preparing a party for all the young people, who spend most of their time locked in their containers or in their homes, where two or three families live together. There are many elderly people who sleep on the floor and so we are hoping to purchase beds for them.

But in order to do this we rely increasingly on the charity of the Church and people of good will.

ln this year dedicated to mercy, let us be like the Lord's Prayer, let us open our hearts to those who disagree with us.

The Lord gives us many graces not because we are worthy, but because we need them. I tell the truth when I say that our life is not easy, but every day we can see how the Divine operates among us and something good always happens. These then, are the best days, those of our Lord who comes with His mercy, to revitalize our lives and live in our heart. Even if we are not worthy, we need your love, and for this we pray in Aramaic "Maranatha", "Come, Lord Jesus." We are sinners: Come with your mercy. May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.

Father Samir Yousseff

December 23, 2015

Parish Priest,

Diocese of Zakho and Amadiya

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