Outlook Issue 22 Winter 2016
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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A Muslim who helps Christians
We can probably all name at least one charity that aims to help refugees in the Middle East. But for me it is not so much an individual charity that grasps my attention, but one remarkable woman, Dr Sarah Ahmed, a Muslim who helps Christians. So who is she? Originally from Baghdad, Sarah trained as a dentist in the US, where she met Canon Andrew White, famously known as the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’. Aware of their common Iraqi background, Sarah introduced herself. On hearing that she belonged to a peace-initiative, Because I love peace, White decided to offer her a job with the charity he had founded at St George’s Church in Baghdad – the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. She would have to live and work in an all-Christian community – but Sarah didn’t hesitate: ‘It never crossed my mind. I feel no difference’, she said. ‘I work for Christians, Yazidis, Jews, everybody else. For me we are all equal.’ White, on orders to leave Baghdad, has left Sarah in charge. Now FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East, she not only oversees the medical and dental clinics and food distribution scheme at St George’s, but travels around Northern Iraq in support of Iraqi Christian refugees, getting the desperately needed medical supplies and food delivered to 17 refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and in Jordan. She also helps to set up schools for refugee children not in education, as well as therapeutic programmes for Yazidi girls who have suffered terrible sexual and physical abuse from ISIS. ‘In fact,’ says White, ‘she is there protecting all the Iraqi Christians. You never hear anything about it in the news, but you hear about the work I am doing. The work that I am doing is being done by a Muslim, caring for the Christians.’ Monthly bulletins from FRRME continue Sarah’s remarkable story and witness to her sheer dedication and courage in such a threatening environment. Why does she do it? ‘My Islam that I believe in is a religion that is very peaceful and believes in helping others,’ she explained. ‘You cannot sleep while your neighbour is hungry or suffering. You have to lend a hand.’ Pictured: Sarah in the House of Lords to receive the 2016 FRRME Peace Prize. Find out more about the work of FRRME on www.frrme.org. Mary Hodge