Here in Erbil, Iraq, the Holy Day is Friday. So on Easter Sunday, we spent the day providing wheelchairs to individuals in a new refugee camp. This new camp, Chamakor, is full of people from Mosul, Iraq, and it went from completely empty to full within two weeks.
When we arrived, people were waiting at the gates to receive a wheelchair, crutches, a walker, or other kinds of help. Chalak, a wheelchair specialist from the Barzani Charity Foundation (the LDS Charities wheelchair program partner organization), had previously visited the camp to identify people who had the greatest need and assess them for a wheelchair. This helped the process of providing the wheelchairs move efficiently, yet the mass of people hoping to receive help was overwhelming.
Several people came to us in wheelchairs that were falling apart, while others had to be carried in on blankets. One man had lost both of his legs in an explosion that killed three of his friends; another man had recently undergone leg surgery.
One mother we met carried in her 17-year-old son—who was as big as she was—and sat with him for three hours, waiting to get a wheelchair for him. We assessed him and took measurements to fit him with a wheelchair that was then delivered to him the following week. I was amazed by the strength of this mother and the love she had for her child, and I’m grateful we were able to help.
Crutches and walkers were provided to individuals who still had some mobility and control of their muscles. These walking aids provided assistance to many in need. However, there are still many individuals in need of a wheelchair, walking aids, or medical care.
During our time at the camp, it occurred to me that if the Savior, Jesus Christ, were there, He would be able to heal these people. I remembered that it was Easter and that He is the reason we celebrate Easter, because one day, through Him, all things will be made right.
This has been our most unique Easter ever. It was difficult to see the trials and hardships these people face, but this is also among the most rewarding work that we do.
*Story from Sandy Watson, an LDS Charities representative serving in Iraq.