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Matra’s family knows first-hand what it is like to flee home because of conflict. She tried to stay in her family’s home village in Iraq as long as possible, even when others had left.

That all changed the day when armed groups knocked at her door. They barged in and questioned Matra and her husband as their children watched in fear while the strange men searched their home and belongings.

“They told me to go to the other room with my daughters and close the door. My husband stayed with the men until I heard them leaving the house. I thought he was going to close the gate after they left, so we waited for him to come back… He never did.”

Day after day, Matra searched for her husband in the village, asking people if they had heard any news about him. She even asked the very men who took him.

“They told me, ‘Don’t ask about him again. He’s gone.’ When all hope for my husband’s return was lost, I decided to flee.”

Matra and her four children journeyed to Kirkuk, Iraq where they stayed in a settlement for displaced people. Life in the camp was hard, but their basic needs were met.

By the end of that year, Matra was told her village was safe to return to. So together they journeyed back home, but it wasn’t how they remembered it.

Starting over

“When we came back, the place was like a ghost town. I was afraid. Everything in the house was destroyed.”

While uncertain of what the future would hold, Matra was hopeful that she could make a life for her and her daughters in their home village once again.

Matra heard about Medair supporting people returning home through cash assistance—a type of assistance which preserves dignity by giving people the choice to purchase the items they need most to rebuild their lives after crisis. Matra, who was a farmer prior to the start of the conflict, purchased a cow.

“The cow was pregnant and now we have a second one. Currently, half of the milk is used to feed my children and the other half is for the baby cow. Once it grows older, we can sell the extra milk for income. Now I can feed my children yoghurt and milk every day. I’m able to provide for them.

“During the crisis, we lost hope. But now, I have hope again that a better life is to come.”

Hope renewed

Returning home seemed like a far-off dream. But now it is a reality. As parts of Iraq become safe to return to, many families, like Matra’s, are now trying to rebuild their lives after crisis. But years of conflict has severely damaged or destroyed homes, schools, medical centres, and other vital services. They need continued support to recover.

Medair is supporting and strengthening the local medical centres, supplying families with essential household and hygiene items, and providing much-needed psychosocial support to people both returning home and still displaced.

This Christmas, will you stand with families in Iraq, like Matra’s, to help them recover after crisis? Your generous support this season will bring hope to families and give them the strength to make a fresh start.

Click here to make a donation of any amount. Just CHF 50.- can make an immediate difference in the lives of a family by providing them with essential kitchen and household items.

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