Iraqi Visitor Tells of Transformation

by Gerry Lynch last modified 01 Apr, 2014 06:22 PM

Speaker at St Francis' Church in Salisbury tells of importance of water and women's representation.

Iraqi Visitor Tells of Transformation

Bishop Edward Condry speaks to Iraqi Christian development worker, Sarjon Toma.

The transforming power of water and women’s representation on community bodies in war-torn northern Iraq was movingly told to Christian Aid supporters who gathered at Salisbury’s St Francis Church last week.

Sarjon Toma, of Christian Aid partner organisation REACH, had travelled from Iraq to talk of the life-saving work carried out in his region which has experienced decades of brutal warfare and violence.

He spoke of how a reservoir had brought stability, crops and livelihoods to the rural village of Zanan Bchuk and how having women on the village council was giving them a voice in a region where domestic violence and female genital mutilation was common.

In the audience was the Bishop of Ramsbury, the Rt Rev Ed Condry, who next month will embark on a solitary walk on the Wiltshire Downs in solidarity with those around the world fleeing conflict and living in poverty and fear.

Bishop Edward said, “It was deeply humbling to hear of what Sarjon and his community have lived through – chemical warfare, bombings, siege and violence.

“Despite this backdrop he was inspired as a child to care for others in need and he and his organisation is living out that vision in challenging circumstances.

REACH not only helps communities recover from war by assisting with infrastructure and economic opportunities but also empowers them to lobby government and supports the setting up of community councils.

“This Christian Aid Week (May 11-17) will look at its work to allow people to live a life free from fear and I hope people across Salisbury and Wiltshire will support it so that people such as those in Sarjon’s community are no longer powerless but have the tools to look to the future with hope.”

Sarjon said,Livelihood projects like the one in Zanan Bchuk are so important for the marginalised poor.  Life in the village feels a lot safer. There is no longer the fear of violence, and the problem of drought has been solved.

“The change from fear and anxiety to peace and security has been a long one. I want to thank the people of the UK whose generosity has helped improved the lives of the people I work with, and to encourage them to carry on.”

Learn more about the work of REACH in Iraq.

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