Ghazan is a hard worker and a proud father of three. In the summer of 2014 he was forced out of his house on the Nineveh plains in Iraq by the so-called Islamic State. Living in displacement is hard for him, but he obtained a job at a local bakery that was set up with the help of Open Doors through a local partner. This helps him to start providing for his family again.

Image:Ghazan is waiting to serve the next customer. 

Ghazan is the first person you see when you walk down one of the busy shopping streets of Erbil towards the bakery. With his head sticking through the shop window, he is waiting for his next customer. When a customer arrives, he quickly and skilfully fills a transparent plastic bag with ‘samoon’, the traditional Iraqi bread. “Please try some,” he says.

Ghazan’s skilful way of working might raise the expectation that he has been a baker all his life. But he actually just started working here. In the back of the bakery, next to the extremely hot oven and the batter mixer, Ghazan shares his story. He visibly still has a hard time accepting what happened. “Back in my own town on the Nineveh plain I used to have a successful transportation company,” he shares. “We had a good life until IS came and forced us out.”

Stolen Cars
Ghazan shrugs his shoulders. He misses his house, his village church and his business. He can’t tell us what has happened to the first two. But he has heard what happened to his company. “I heard that IS stole all the cars of my company. They are using them in Mosul right now.”

Ghazan has three children. A daughter and two sons. The oldest one is 21, the youngest is nine. “It was hard to see my family displaced. We lost our home, our place to stay.” The baker and his family first went to the house of his sister but then continued to Erbil because his eldest one couldn’t get an education in the city of his sister.

          Image: Samoon (traditional Iraqi bread) 

Struggling to Survive
While Ghazan was used to a comfortable life back on the Nineveh Plain, he arrived in Erbil empty handed. “The first 15 days in Erbil were really hard,” Ghazan recalls. “I couldn’t find a job, I had no income, and the rent for our apartment was high.”

When the church offered him a managerial position at a bakery that had been established by partners of Open Doors, he took the job immediately. He wipes the sweat off his face. “Although I don’t earn much here and I have to work much longer hours then what I was used to back home, at least I can pay my rent so my family doesn’t have to live in a camp.”

Image: Inside the Bakery 

Awaiting the Future
Patience—that is what he has learned from this situation, the former business owner tells us. “I am a Christian and Jesus teaches us how to be patient. In this situation there is no other road than to be patient; this situation forced us to practice that.”

Ghazan is 47 now and has barely seen peace in his country. War after war has entered his path. He can only hope that the future for his family will be better. Because, his family, that’s is the only thing he still has. “I have lost everything, but I thank God that my family is still with me.”