The Mothers’ Union revealed today that it has been distributing emergency food aid to people in Baghdad through its 400 member-strong branch in the city.
Utilizing its Emergency Relief Fund, which enables Mothers’ Union branches all over the world to facilitate work in times of crises, Mothers’ Union has sent £5,000 through Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George’s Baghdad, enabling the members at the church to provide food, and where necessary blankets and medicine, to hundreds of people displaced or impoverished throughout the city.
It is not just UK-distributed funding at work. For many months the women of the Mothers’ Union at St. George’s, Baghdad have been fundraising and making saleable goods themselves in order to provide supplies for nearby orphanages that are helping the increasing numbers of children without parents. The women hold meetings once a week and provide support through food, bedding and school stationery supplies for orphanages, a local home for disabled children, and for families seeking support from the church after being forced out of their homes for being Christian.
Mothers’ Union member Canon Andrew, who is Chair of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle-East (FRRME) said, “I have been so impressed with the way the Mothers’ Union members have co-ordinated and distributed the emergency relief aid, they’ve been fantastic. Aid is not just going to Christians but to Muslims too, and to members who are themselves in need. All receive help equally. We have been so impressed with how these volunteers have co-ordinated the relief work, that I hope that not just this funding, but humanitarian projects funded by FRRME will be handled by the Mothers’ Union.”
Despite the praise, the Mothers’ Union are aware that they only have capacity to help those known to the church, or in the surrounding communities. Coupled with that, the members are themselves victims of the constant food shortages and accommodation crises, not to mention the violence, that threaten the stability of everyday life in Baghdad.
Oxfam International have reported that nearly 30% of all children in Iraq are malnourished, and that 15% of Iraqi’s regularly do not have enough to eat. Speaking in support of Oxfam’s call on agencies and governments to do more to bring humanitarian aid to civilians in Iraq, Mothers’ Union chief executive, Reg Bailey said “It is a hallmark of the Mothers’ Union that it is a grassroots membership which volunteers assistance at the local level as and when it is needed. But the continuing deterioration of the situation in Iraq cannot be sustained for much longer by and for local people without outside help. We support Oxfam’s call for the international community to do all it can to encourage governments to bring urgent assistance to people of all faiths and none, within Iraq.”
Statistics supplied with kind permission of Oxfam International
Notes to Editors:
The Mothers' Union is an international family charity with 3.6 million members dedicated to promoting marriage and family life. It realises that the wellbeing of the family cannot be separated from the welfare of wider communities and therefore undertakes groundbreaking community work in 78 countries.
The Mothers’ Union branch in Iraq was founded Easter 2006, and membership now stands at 400.
The branch members, themselves directly affected by the increasing sectarian tensions, the difficulty in obtaining basic supplies and the everyday security threats, nevertheless meet every week to pray, and to gather resources and bring aid to those in the community in need. Many Christians have had to flee from their homes and are taking refugee in churches; there are increasing numbers of bereaved families, or orphaned children who are in need of the basics of life. Alongside food distribution, Mothers’ Union members in Iraq have recently been providing ongoing assistance to their local community through the provision of bedding, clothing, and school provisions for children and meeting requests from desperate families who need financial assistance to obtain essential surgery or medicines.