The Knights of Columbus have embarked on an ambitious new campaign to rebuild the predominantly Christian town of Karamdes in Iraq, which was recently liberated from ISIS, and to return the exiled Christians to their homes.
Grand Knight Carl Anderson announced the project during the Knights’ 135th annual convention.
“I am pleased to announce that the Knights of Columbus is taking a concrete step to save Christianity in Iraq,” Anderson said. “The board of directors has authorized a new effort to raise $2 million to save a Christian town on the Nineveh Plain. The town the Knights of Columbus is saving in Karamdes. It is a town in Iraq that until recently was controlled by ISIS.”
He went on to describe the devastation ISIS left behind and what the new project is hoping to accomplish.
“The terrorists desecrated churches and graves and looted and destroyed homes. Now we will ensure that hundreds of Christian families driven from their homes will return. We will give them and many others hope for the future. For $2,000, a council, a parish or an individual can move a family back home.”
The initiative matches a similar donation by the government of Hungary, which recently donated $2 million to save another predominately Christian town, Teleskov. About 1,000 families have now moved back to that town, providing proof that such actions can actually work in restoring pre-ISIS populations to their home and towns.
Like the government of Hungary, the Knights will partner in the resettlement and rebuilding effort with the Archdiocese of Erbil where the largest population of Christian refugees in Iraq are presently being housed, including many of the residents of Karamdes.
“Now we will ensure that hundreds of Christian families driven from their homes can return to these two locations and help to ensure a pluralistic future for Iraq,” Anderson said.
The Knights are urging their councils, parishes, Church groups, and individuals who want to help to donate $2,000 – the approximate cost of resettling one family. Just a thousand such donations would be necessary to reach the $2 million goal.
Smaller donations are also very much appreciated.
The rebuilding work will begin this week and money will begin flowing to the project immediately. One hundred percent of the money raised will be used for the project.
In the same speech, Anderson also announced that the Knights will partner with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on a “Week of Awareness” for persecuted Christians beginning Nov. 26.
Since 2014, the Knights’ Christian Refugee Relief Fund has donated more than $13 million for humanitarian assistance primarily in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region. The Knights’ documentation of ISIS’ atrocities and advocacy on behalf of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East were decisive in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2016 genocide declaration for Christians and other religious minorities in the region. This designation was reaffirmed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week.
“Christians who endure suffering and death for their faith in places like Iraq, Syria and Egypt, show us how to confront terrible evil with the weapons of love and truth,” Anderson said. “They are a brilliant witness to God’s love and power.”
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