It’s a happy chaos in the kindergarten; kids are running around, playing with toys and sitting on little swings. How many kids exactly? Aswad puts his hands in the air and smiled. “I don’t know,” he said, looking at his wife Eshal for help. “We have about 60 children from different ages now,” she says. Aswad is visibly proud to be to owner of this joyful place. It’s hard to imagine that only five years ago, he and his family were living in a one room apartment; broke and unemployed. Like many Christian refugees in Kurdish North Iraq, Aswad’s family fled the violence in the Baghdad area. The Kurdish area is a relatively safe place for the Christian minority, but it also has disadvantages. “Most Christians don’t speak Kurdish, the local language,” says William, an Open Doors fieldworker. “This makes it very hard to find a job.” Most of the Kurdish workers have a job with the government, but for the Arabic speaking Christian refugees, working with the government is impossible. This was no different for Aswad- he couldn’t find a job and was desperately searching for a way to feed his family. “One of the few possibilities to make a living as a refugee is to start your own business,” says William. “But you can’t start a business if you don’t have money. That’s why we are giving out microloans.” It’s a simple procedure: the refugee hands in a business plan and if it’s approved, he gets a small starting budget. Right after his business starts running, he starts paying off his debt. “Most of them pay off their debt in a short period of time,” says William. “We have helped many people starting taxi services, hair salons and minimarkets.” Aswad had his own idea about business: “I thought, now I’m in a small house with a few children, why not rent a big house and take care of many children?” After they received the loan, they started renting a house for the kindergarten. They reserved a small part of the house to live in themselves. At first they didn’t get many children: “We thought we might close the kindergarten,” says Aswad. “But then we started praying.” More and more kids started coming until Aswad phoned his friends and asked them to please stop praying for more children, because they couldn’t handle any more. At this moment they have a waiting list of 150 children and are planning on opening a second kindergarten. *For security purposes, no real names have been used in this article. Help Christians Like Aswad- Give Where Needed Most
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