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Rebuilding of Iraq Offers Hope and Peace
By Sabah Hajjar :: Monday, March 5, 2007 :: 59260 Views :: Article Rating :: 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. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  

Rev. Frank Kalabat

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.


Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.