Poured Out Like Wine: Providing Iraqis Relief

Food for the Hungry
Thursday, 5 June 2003

"Down a passageway between two rows of houses, garbage piled high and rotting by the wayside, we made our way to our next visit. Sewage ran down the center of the passageway, and the stench rising from it in the hot Iraqi sun was ... almost too much to bear. The building, long past its prime, with paint worn off, cement walls cracked, balcony partly missing and latrines filling up, is in deplorable conditions, but these families have nowhere else to go," said Terry Laura, a relief program manager with Food for the Hungry, as she described the home of several families the organization intends to help.

During the past several weeks, Terry and her husband Ken, also a program manager, have spent countless hours in Baghdad and Kerkuk meeting with families, listening to their sorrow, sharing their hope, and determining how Food for the Hungry and a coalition of local, Jordanian churches can meet their needs.

The Laura's explained that since very few people had jobs, several generations of families were forced to live together. "Some of the rooms were so tiny that you cannot imagine anyone living in them, let alone so many people," Terry said. One of the residents they met was pregnant. According to the Laura's, the tiny, one-room home that her family shares is covered with mattresses, with a kitchen area and make-shift latrine that her husband built especially for her. She has never received any prenatal care and is planning to deliver at home. Her husband is a day laborer, but he hasn't had work for several months.

Cramped living conditions and job shortages aren't the only problems the Laura's encountered, they found that safety is an issue for many families. Sitting with Ms. S. in her tiny, spotlessly clean front room, they learned what life is like for an elderly woman living alone in Iraq. Ms. S. shared how people came pounding on her front door on more than one occasion and harassed her until she gave them money and everything she had of value. "Her eyes filled with tears when she spoke of the future," Terry said.

Families like these cannot think about the future because they're busy trying to survive the present. That is why the Laura's are helping Food for the Hungry distribute canned meat, milk powder, pasta and other food items. In future distributions they hope to provide hygiene kits and school supplies as well.

Ken and Terry admit that their job isn't always easy, but they are committed to what they do. "We love putting our hands to our hearts," Terry explained further, "I have always just wanted to help the hurting, and I know Ken feels the same way." Ken added, "When Terry and I got married, one of the songs during our wedding had the chorus: 'Will you be poured out like wine upon the altar for me? Will you be broken like bread to feed the hungry?' "It is still a question I ask myself when the going gets tough, and the answer is still the same, 'Yes'".

Food for the Hungry was founded in 1971 and helps some of the world's most needy people in 30 countries. Programs are developed to meet spiritual and physical needs, and include child sponsorship, agriculture, clean water projects, education, micro-enterprise loans, health and nutrition, and disaster relief.

For more information, or to contact Food for the Hungry, see their website at: www.fh.org

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