Born and raised in London to a non-Christian family, my parents who were immigrants were born into different religious faiths. Both from Iraq, my mother was Muslim and my father, a Mandaean. The Mandean religion is believed to be the first religion on earth with baptism as its central theme and their mother tongue is the Aramaic language. Approximately 60,000 of them are left in the world today.
My exposure to faith as a child was pretty much diverse, but as I emerged into my teenage years I began to ask alot of questions about the Christian faith. As my career path slowly took a turn and brought me to Dubai to work in the Banking industry, my life was still not complete and I started to go within. I was hungry for a church service similar to that of back home but it was different, crowded and no place to really go within. Whilst surfing the Internet back in 2014 I came across the London Internet Church/St Stephen Walbrook, I slowly started to pray and light candles and it was just the perfect space to be heard and seen. The church today has remained a safe place for me to grow and nurture myself and explore further the Christian faith and feel home
It is common knowledge that the Middle East can be quite volatile and has seen plenty of wars and atrocities over the years- the non-dominant/minority religions have not been immune to this. I dedicated my free time to explore more and I began volunteering with a London based charity Iraqi Christians in Need (ICIN www.icin.org.uk) sponsoring orphaned children who were displaced. Ironically, this deepened my journey into Christianity as I felt I wanted to be their voice and raise awareness. Coupled with that I left my job in the Banking world and started to dedicate my career to helping those in need full time. Still stationed in Dubai, I worked for an NGO that supported microenterprises across the region. One field visit took me to Palestine where I fell in love. It was home! The land itself held stories of 2000 years. When I went to Bethlehem and entered the Church of Nativity, my body shook and tears strolled down for hours after. I just knew later on that this was the initiation for me.
I later left the NGO and decided to leave to New York, I desperately wanted to work for the UN but as divine intervention would happen and over the span of one year, I never got a placement. Giving up, I felt that perhaps Dubai was still the place for me. I applied to just one job at a UN Agency not knowing the deep and valuable work they do nor for who! I got the job within one week. The agency is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA www.unrwa.org). I accepted immediately. My job was clearly not yet done. I now visit the Holy Land as part of my job and fundraise for programs such as primary health care, education, mental health, microfinance, relief and social services etc. The Agency itself has suffered severe funding shortages over the years. We support 5.7 million Palestinian refugees including over half a million children who are very much in need across Gaza, West Bank, East Jerusalem, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Three years on, I live a dream job where I am of service to humanity with a strong link to the Holy Land itself. With God as my guide, my mission continues…….
In Grace and Gratitude