Christians rebuilding their homes in devastated Qaraqosh could soon receive financial support from Australians concerned about the diminishing presence of Christianity in Iraq, The Catholic Leader reports.
Benjamin Blanchard, the founder of SOS Chretiens d’Orient, a non-government organisation helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East, will visit Australia later this month with the hope of raising $150,000 to help rebuild Qaraqosh.
Mr Blanchard will give a series of talks in Brisbane, NSW and Victoria between November 26 and December 10.
He will be welcomed by Ora Duffley, a Brisbane Catholic who volunteered with Mr Blanchard’s organisation before Easter this year.
Ms Duffley became the first Australian to volunteer with SOS Chretiens d’Orient, which has attracted 1000 volunteers since beginning in 2013.
She said the organisation was impressed with the financial support she received from Australians and was now inviting the country to support in rebuilding one of Iraq’s oldest Christian cities.
“One of the projects they’ve given Australia is to help us rebuild the Christian city of Qaraqosh,” Ms Duffley said.
“We’ve raised a challenge for Australia to raise $150,000 in two weeks.”
Understood to be the largest Christian city in Iraq, Qaraqosh came under attack by Islamic militants ISIS, who raided the town to erase any traces of Christianity.
Families fled their homes, many losing their lives in the process, until Iraqi forces took back the city in October 2016.
Several families who fled Qaraqosh were able to settle in Australia and are now living in the Bracken Ridge parish on Brisbane’s north.
The funds raised during Mr Blanchard’s tour will help SOS Chretiens d’Orient’s work in giving hope to those who lost everything to remain as Christians in Qaraqosh.
As well as providing emergency aid and medical care to Christian refugees in Iraq, SOS Chretiens d’Orient also helps displaced persons to return to the lands where their ancestors lived.
Australia picked to help rebuild shattered Christian town Qaraqosh (The Catholic Leader)