Greenhouses in green fields in Iraq

Life wasn’t easy in Europe. He and his family didn’t receive the visa to stay in The Netherlands, so they returned to Iraq to a very tiny village on the edges of the river Tigris. Once, far back in history, the Tigris was used to demonstrate the location of the Garden of Eden. I now stand amidst three gardens of Eden under plastic and meet with Rafael who shows how hope can revive in Iraq.

As a lover of nature and birds, my day is already perfect before we speak because I have a close encounter with a colorful bee-eater. This spectacularly colored bird adds to the feeling of being in a place like paradise. Complete silence is found in this place. The village of Bakhloja is only inhabited by six families. The other 37 houses have been abandoned by families who left the country for another life in the West.

Rafael, in his red polo shirt and blue checkered pants, wears high rubber boots. It rained a lot these past days. “Not so good for us, we need the water from the river, and it’s now too muddy to be used in the green houses.” As hundreds of other families in Iraq, he benefited from a microloan that was made possible through your support.

The 35-year-old Rafael was able to make three greenhouses on his own land, prepare the soil and buy the necessary seeds for the pumpkins he is growing in the plastic covered greenhouses. “We will harvest about 150 to 200 kg in August,” he says. “With the greenhouses we can harvest earlier than the harvest from normal soil, this means that the prices we get will be higher.”

Although they will have sufficient income from the greenhouses and although he lives in a lovely place, he has his doubts about the future. “Almost all from this village left the country. Besides my children, there are only two other children. I always wake up early to go the greenhouse, but there is no one to say ‘good morning’ to.”

He needs to wait some more months before he can harvest the pumpkins. The yellow flowers are very promising. When he looks around he says: “I need to call my two workers, we need to clear the greenhouses of weeds.” There is always work to do as a farmer. He walks back home uphill. With his boots he easily passes the muddy parts of the road, following him with normal shoes is a challenge.

Through our local partner and via local church committees we have been able to invest in more than 200 microloan projects. “About 80% are doing very well; that means that the beneficiaries succeed in paying the loan back in the stipulated time of two years. Some others have a delay in returning the money, but they are returning it. About 10% are unsuccessful or even stopped,” says the coordinator of microloans and grants of our partner organization.

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