Light in the Midst of Darkness: Iraqi Dominicans Offer Healing and
Sr. Roberta A. Popara, OP (Sinsinawa)
There is a light amidst the darkness of Iraq. The U.S. invasion
and occupation of Iraq has not brought hope to the ordinary Iraqi
person. Iraqi Dominicans, ministering to both Christians and Muslims,
are taking bold steps to bring light, healing and support to people
who have suffered enormous loss.
They have taken on a courageous and new ministry
project: Al-Noor Family and Social Consultancy Center.
Established in July of 2005 by Fr. Amir Jiji, OP, it is a humanitarian
endeavor that hopes to help Iraqi women overcome the psychological
and social problems that result from abuse and violence whether
within the family or society.
sanctions, invasion and occupation has brought with it increased
violence including increased spousal abuse. More and more wives
have become widows. The ravages of war have made Women and their
children especially vulnerable to economic, moral and psychological
Women who would have never considered such choices
have turned to prostitution in order to provide for their families,
bringing increased humiliation and abuse. All this needs to be considered
within the context of Middle East societies for both Christians
July, 2005, Al-Noor Center opened its doors to women in need and
welcomed them with warmth and acceptance. The staff and volunteers
include people with the much needed background in psychiatry, psychology,
gynecology, social work, pastoral and spiritual care. There is both
a clinic in Baghdad and an extended care facility near the city.
The Center is even using the Internet as a means to reach women
and families in need.
has been my privilege to collaborate with Sr. Sherine, sending her
books and other materials for her own educational updating and for
use by her in training & formation programs as well as counseling
Corresponding with Sr. Sherine to ensure I was sending
what was needed for her own updating, she would occasionally express
concern for the efforts it was taking on my part. Through our exchange,
we experienced what it means to be collaborative in which both are
giving and both are receiving. We envisioned how the work of Al-Noor
Center has the potential to contribute to the global understanding
and response needed for people whose lives are traumatized by translating
culturally Western theory and practice into Middle East clinical
and pastoral approaches.
“Al Noor” means “The Light.”
The work of the staff and volunteers of the Center are truly bringing
light into Iraqi women’s lives and into the country. . .into
Roberta A. Popara, OP (Sinsinawa) with Sr. Sherine Yacoub Panour
OP (St Catherine of Sienna, Mosul) and Fr. Amir Jiji OP (Middle
East Vicariate - French Province)
Sr. Roberta is a member of the US Dominican Iraq Coordinating Committee
and on staff at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center, North Palm
Al-Noor Center continues to grow and respond to the
needs of women in this time of turmoil and transition for Iraq.
Funding is needed:
- To pay the staff salaries.
-To initiate new activities.
- To fund the development of the long term treatment facility
- To continue the educational programs at the Center.
- To develop a resource library for staff and volunteers [more books
and materials such as I have sent].
-To fund educational opportunities abroad for staff members both
Dominicans and other personnel.
Donations for this project may be sent to the Iraq Solidarity Fund
– a designated Dominican fund based in Rome. Please indicate
your donation is for Al-Noor [The Light] Family and Social Consultancy
Center in Baghdad.
Iraq Solidarity Fund
Piazza Pietro I'Illiria 1
Roma, 00153 Italia