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 after others left.

That all changed the day armed groups knocked at her door. They barged in and questioned Matra and her husband. Their children watched in fear while the strange men searched their home and went through their 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 daughters 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 learned her village was safe to return to. So Marta and her children 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 she could make a life for her and her daughters in their home village.

Matra heard Medair was supporting people returning home with cash assistance—a type of assistance that preserves the recipient’s dignity by them the choice to purchase the items they need most to rebuild their lives after crisis. Matra, who was a farmer before 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 yogurt 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. But years of conflict have severely damaged or destroyed homes, schools, medical centers, and other vital services. They need continued support to recover.

Medair supports and strengthens local medical centers, supplies families with essential household and hygiene items, and provides much-needed mental health support to people who are returning home and those who are 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 brings hope to families and gives them the strength and help needed to make a fresh start.

Click here to make a donation of any amount. A gift of $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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