CLOTHED IN DIGNITY
For Malid*, a farmer from a village in Northern Iraq, life before the war is little more than a distant memory. ‘I enjoyed life in my village,’ he reflects. ‘There were no strangers; we were all relatives and friends who supported each other. Now, after this crisis, I know the value of that life.’
Like tens of thousands in Iraq, Malid’s life was shattered when militants swept through his village. ‘One evening the armed forces in our town suddenly withdrew,’ he recalls. ‘ISIS came through our streets on motorbikes shooting bullets in the air. I could not sleep, I was so worried for the safety of my family.’
As reports came in of violence and destruction in nearby villages, Malid knew it was time to run. ‘It was a terrible day. I gathered my family; I did not have time to get my clothes or items from the house.’ They managed to escape just in time – as Malid fled with his wife and six children, fighting broke out in his village amongst different groups.
Malid and his family have begun to rebuild their lives, but it’s been a struggle – health problems have kept Malid from employment, and he has had to adjust to a different way of life. ‘We were hoping to go back, but there is nothing there now,’ he says.
However, Malid and his family were selected for Tearfund’s financial assistance programme. ‘When I arrived at the distribution, the Tearfund staff treated us with so much respect. They even had water for us and were able to make copies of our documents,’ says Malid.
‘Financial assistance is about giving dignity back to people,’ explains Ninos, Tearfund’s Multi-sector Programme Officer. ‘People know their own needs, and cash allows them to meet those needs.’ Malid was able to purchase essential items for winter such as warm clothing, heaters and blankets. Life is still hard, but now his family have what they need to survive. ‘Thank you so much – we have everything we need for winter,’ Malid says. ‘We are so grateful!’
*Name changed to protect identity.
- PLEASE PRAY
- Praise God that Malid and his family were able to escape. Please pray that families still at risk will find safety and security.
- Pray for a swift and total resolution to the conflict enveloping Iraq and the surrounding region – that peace may reign.
- Lift up Tearfund’s staff and all our partners in the region, who are working in unstable and often dangerous conditions. Pray for God’s hand of protection upon them, that they may continue to help those in the greatest need.
Having spent nine years in displacement camps, Fikiri Madisi and his family were looking forward to coming home. But on arriving back in their village of Mwandiga in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the family discovered that conditions there were not much better.
Back to basics
‘On return, we had no toilets, bathrooms or clean water,’ recalls 42-year-old Fikiri Madisi, a teacher and father of nine. As well as being uncomfortable and inconvenient, having to use the bush or the lake as their toilet was dangerous and polluted the village’s water supply.
Join the club
Thankfully Fikiri’s village was one of many to receive information and advice on good sanitation and hygiene practices through a Community Health Club (CHC) set up in his village. ‘With the teachings we received from the CHC we acquired skills to build our own toilet for our families,’ explains Fikiri.
The CHC in Mwandiga was set up by Tearfund as part of the SWIFT consortium, which aims to deliver sustainable access to safe water and sanitation, and encourage the adoption of of basic hygiene practices in the DRC and Kenya. The Consortium, funded with UK aid from the British people, is part of the Department for International Development’s WASH Results Programme.
Through the CHC Fikiri has learned the importance of toilets and has increased his knowledge of hygiene practices. He has since built a toilet in his compound, decreasing the frequency of diseases and diarrhoea in his family.
- PLEASE PRAY
- Give thanks to God for the transformation in Fikiri’s life and for his family. How wonderful that they now have access to proper toilets and clean sanitation.
- Praise God for the way in which the SWIFT consortium is uniting development organisations under a common goal. Ask that God would continue to bless the work of SWIFT.
- Pray that more lives would be saved through the basic provision of toilets, clean water and hygiene training.
PLANTING TREES OF LIFE
For Aaden* and his fellow villagers, climate change isn’t just a vague concept, it’s a harsh reality that impacts their lives in devastating ways. Aaden is a 45-year-old farmer from the Hargeisa region of Somaliland. He is part of a community who are learning that the solutions to environmental problems can come from within themselves.
Aaden remembers how, as a child, the climate wasn’t a problem: ‘We experienced drought rarely, and my family had a large herd of livestock,’ he recalls. But now periods of drought are far more frequent, making it almost impossible for him to keep livestock or grow enough food. This dramatic change is due in part to a massive increase in charcoal production, which has had a catastrophic effect on the environment and livelihoods. ‘Many people became involved in charcoal production,’ Aaden explains. ‘This resulted in increased levels of deforestation, causing land degradation, soil erosion and a reduction in rainfall – ultimately leading to severe recurring droughts.’
However, thanks to Tearfund partner World Relief, the situation is starting to turn around. World Relief have been training the leaders in Aaden’s village in community mobilisation, environmental conservation and disaster risk reduction, giving them the knowledge and skills they need to take matters into their own hands.
Healing the land
Now Aaden’s whole village have rallied around the cause, enforcing laws that ban charcoal production and trade. ‘We ensure no tree is felled, and if you have to cut a tree, you plant five first,’ Aaden says. ‘As a community, it is our responsibility to protect and preserve our environment.’ Filled with hope as he points to some newly planted trees, Aaden remarks: ‘You can see our environment is slowly healing from the calamity of deforestation. This will help reverse the weather patterns, so that we can again have large herds of livestock and farm to produce enough to eat and sell.’
‘Our village serves as a good example of the success that comes from initiatives that are community led,’ Aaden says. ‘We just wish to continue working together with Tearfund to restore the environment for our children and grandchildren.’
*Name changed to protect identity.
- PLEASE PRAY
- Praise God for the transformation that has taken place in Aaden’s village and pray that it will continue.
- Pray that more communities in Somaliland will come to develop a positive relationship with the environment.
- Pray that the damage done to the environment in this part of the world will be reversed and that the increased prevalence of droughts will come to an end.
John Gravett – Tearfund Representative