CHRISTIAN stonemasons who were forced to abandon their jobs during the ongoing battle between Islamic State (IS) and government forces in Mosul, Iraq, have found new employment in a factory set up by the anti-persecution charity Open Doors.
Open Doors has been working with a local partner and the Mar Mattai monastery (of St Matthew) in Mosul to fund and build the stone works, which is about 25 miles from the city. Many of the families in the surrounding villages are skilled stone-cutters, the charity said in a statement last week, and had worked in Mosul before the battle began last year.
Nashwan, one of the 50 men now employed at the factory, said: “I had worked for 20 years in stone-cutting, and, suddenly, I was unemployed. I had no means of caring for my wife and three children; they are depending on my income. We worried about our future in this country, especially as we saw so many other families migrate.
”Without this project, I would still be unemployed at home. But now it is better; I can take care of my family again. We hope for better times. We thank the Church for supporting us.”
Father Yosef is overseeing the project on behalf of the monastery. “Most [stone] products are sold in Baghdad,” he said. “There are no mountains there; so they have to buy their stone products here in the north. All these workers are now able to support their families. We hope this will give them a reason to stay in this country.
”Most organisations distribute food and give people money. They eat it, they spend it, and it’s gone. This project offers long-term hope, since it guarantees people’s salary for the future. And it has become self-sufficient: no new grants are needed to support this factory.”
Open Doors launched a seven-year campaign, Hope for the Middle East, in October last year.