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Praying with refugees in Iraq
Saturday, September 05, 2015

As part of its mission to accompany families who fled their homes, Jesuit Refugee Service staff visit displaced people in Erbil, Iraq. (Jesuit Refugee Service)
(Erbil) September 6, 2015 — Adhraa is a young single woman who fled the ISIS invasion of her Iraqi town and now lives with her family in the city of Erbil. She talks about how her faith has evolved because of her ordeal.

The day we left our town Qaraqosh was so terrible. The sound of the bombs was so close.

When we arrived in Erbil, we slept in the yard of the church. There were thorns. 

At first, some families had tents, but we didn't. Then we got one. When the church gave food to people, we were at the end. 

Then we were in a camp in a sports center. It was full of mice. We put stones around our tent to keep out the mice, but it didn't work. It was terrible to hear the mice at night.

The bathroom was far away and it was hard to get water and bring it back. It's hard in the camps, waiting for your turn in the bathroom in the hot sun. Waiting for food.

I like things to be clean and neat. My aunt said, "God will put you in a place where you won't pay so much attention to that."

Now we are living in a small house with another family that also ran from ISIS. We have to live in a way we're not used to. We're living with people who are depressed. 

People who fled their homes are under so much psychological stress. We shared the kitchen. One day the other family said, "You broke our eggs." We didn't. There are many misunderstandings.

Sometimes I think, how can I bear all these things. But God is with me. I've learned to live with people I don't like. Now I know that I should try to talk to people I don't like.

Our legal papers are in Qaraqosh. We can't do our passports. 

If I could take three things from our house that I left behind, I'd take my legal documents, my books, and the cross on our door. I can't bear to think that someone would touch it or break it.

I like sports. I played baseball. Now I am sitting at home. I was planning to complete my studies... I don't have many dreams because they don't come true.

But I take Jesuit Refugee Service English classes here. I heard about the classes in church. I thought the course would be too simple., not useful. But then a friend showed me her homework. I took a test and JRS put me in a higher level.

What I want most is not money and not even to get back to my studies. Peace of mind, that's what we miss.

We're in this situation. God wants us to learn something. 

I hadn't been going to church. Now, every day I'm in church. All you can do is pray.

If you don't face hard situations, you'll never learn the things you need. The strength comes from God. The Iraqi people have learned a lot.

Reflections for Prayer
"Sometimes I think, how can I bear all these things. But God is with me.  

"We're in this situation. God wants us to learn something."

Suggested Reading for Prayer

Psalms 13:2-3

How long, Lord? Will you utterly forget me?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I carry sorrow in my soul,

grief in my heart day after day?