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Iraq Perspectives

Light in the Midst of Darkness: Iraqi Dominicans Offer Healing and Hope

May 2006
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.

Wars, 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 trauma.

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 and Muslims.

In 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.

It 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 assistance.

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 the world.

Sr. 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 Beach, Florida.

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

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