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Rebuilding of Iraq Offers Hope and Peace
By Sabah Hajjar :: Monday, March 5, 2007 :: 48056 Views :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Fallujah, IRAQ - Chaldeans are taking an active role in rebuilding Iraq.  Although Chaldeans have been shut-out of the Iraqi government, that hasn’t stopped courageous Chaldeans from finding ways to rebuild the land they love.  “This land is our father and mother.  We were born from this ground.  We have a bond with this land.  We are the native people of this land for nearly ten thousand years,” says Ibtissam Halibu. 

Halibu’s husband currently serves in the Iraqi government as a field engineer and is one of the nearly thousands of Chaldeans serving Iraq.  Chaldeans are helping the U.S. Military and the Iraqi police bring peace to a nation torn by insurgents bent on creating instability and chaos.

Even though the U.S. Military receives little recognition for the redevelopment effort in Iraq, American Soldiers and Marines continue to risk their lives improving the quality of life for all Iraqi’s.  “I have seen first hand of new schools, health clinics, and police stations being built everyday,” says Walid Poules, an engineer and construction contractor.

Fallujah was the once hotbed of violence but, now grows with job opportunities and reconstruction efforts.  A $28 million project to build a new sewerage system is just one of the recent projects that has given hundred’s of Iraqi’s new jobs.   Sattar Saed, the engineer managing the project is thrilled that insurgent activities have decreased.

In last November's U.S.-led offensive in Fallujah, hundreds of insurgents were killed. The Iraqi police have enforced curfews, checkpoints and other stringent security measures to prevent the city from falling back into insurgent hands.

The promising seeds of stability are starting to return as Fallujah has a 21-person city council.  Meanwhile, insurgents have not given up on Fallujah. American and Iraqi personnel still remain on alert as they work to rebuild.  The insurgent danger continues to loom in the shadows as as democracy takes hold. 

Col. Charles M. Gurganus, commander of the 8th Marine Regiment, which oversees the region that includes Fallujah, said the security measures have ensured that "Fallujah probably is the safest place in al-Anbar province. . . . We keep a pretty tight clampdown on this place."  Many people here say they do feel safer and are excited about the rebuilding efforts.

In an effort to generate work in Fallujah, Iraqi officials have identified over$100 million worth of projects, including a $30 million electricity distribution system, $7 million in water system upgrades and the sewerage project. New schools, police stations, clinics and water treatment plants are underway.

The Taleb Janabi Hospital, a privately-owned facility, will receive $150,000.  "This is truly a collaborative effort here. It was great creative problem solving to address the immediate needs of Fallujah," U.S. Army Col. Terry Parker. 

In addition to the renovations at Janabi, the following are ongoing and upcoming medical projects in Fallujah:

  • Fallujah General Hospital is slated to receive a new x-ray machine and a CT scan, diagnostic equipment used to generate anatomy imaging, in the next couple of weeks from the Iraqi Ministry of Health.
  • Three medical clinics have been rehabilitated and opened and five new clinics are scheduled to be built, according to the ministry. 
  •  A total of $6.2 million, which was supplied by the ministry, has been earmarked for the Fallujah General Hospital and medical clinic renovations in and around the city. 
  • The Ministry of Health has also recently allocated $40 million for a new general hospital in Fallujah.

Halibu’s wife receives monthly letters from her husband writing about the wonderful changes.  “I love receiving his letters.  There is hope and a renewed energy.  I don’t know why all these wonderful things in Iraq are not being covered in the American news.”  In his latest letter Halibu’s husband writes about how a group U.S. Marine were acting out children stories, doing magic, and handing out school supplies.  Halibu keeps all her husbands letter in a protected photo album. Halibu lifts up the photo album patting the soft protective cover saying, “This is the truth of what is happening in Iraq.  Our hope grows.” 

Sabah Hajjar is the Iraqi Foreign Correspondent for www.CHALDEAN.org.  Mr. Hajjar has served as diplomatic attaché and is currently writing a book titled “The Birthpains of a Great Nation.  The Marriage of Iraq and America.”  Mr. Hajjar lives in California with his wife and three children.  To leave comments or contact Mr. Hajjar please e-mail info@chaldean.org

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.