A Much Needed Focal Point for the Community
Syriac Orthodox Monastery of Mar Mattai
17 August 2019
In early 2019, it was decided by St John’s Notting Hill to approach the UK charity Iraqi Christians in Need (ICIN) to administer a £80,000 aid programme for the benefit of the Syriac Orthodox Monastery of Mar Mattai subject to ICIN’s normal due diligence and guidelines. Soon thereafter, ICIN trustees decided to support the programme and direct contact was established with H.E. Mor Timothius Mousa AlShamani, Syriac Archbishop of St Matthew’s Monastery, in order to agree details of a specific project that the Monastery deems is best suited to its needs at the time. As a UK charity with the clearly-stated objectives of “the relief of hardship, sickness and distress of Iraqi and other Middle Eastern Christians through financial, medical and educational aid”, ICIN began to liaise closely with Archbishop Al-Shamani and his appointed project coordinator Eskuf Ephram Benyamine in order to identify a suitable project consistent with the needs of the Monastery, the funds available and the objectives of ICIN. The Archbishop nominated several projects of which the construction of an indoor stadium in Bahzani was deemed the most important. This stadium would provide leisure opportunities for the people of and around Bahzani and especially the young among them and serve as a much-needed focal point for the local community as evidenced by the attached letter from Archbishop Al-Shamani.
On 26th June, the first tranche of US$33,000 was sent to the account of Nineveh Reconstruction Matthew Orthodox as requested and work commenced late July with the preparation and levelling of the ground. Since then, concrete foundations have been laid, steel structures for the sides and roof supplied and to be erected soon and we expect the second payment tranche to fall due within the next few weeks.
Finally, may we say how honoured ICIN is to have been entrusted with this important task of helping the Mar Mattai Monastery and looks forward to continuing its support of the Iraqi Orthodox community, a support that began in 2010 as detailed in the Note below.
ICIN was founded in May 2007 with the object of relieving the distress and hardship of suffering Iraqi Christians inside Iraq and the neighbouring countries. The trustees of ICIN have the role of interpreting and applying these objectives faithfully for the benefit of those in need. For example therefore, it is the view of the trustees that the charity’s objectives do not permit ICIN to make grants for the construction of churches or seminaries. For that reason, it was decided that the support of the klerikiye at Mar Mattai Monastery by ICIN would not be an appropriate application of the aid funds entrusted to ICIN as was made clear to both the donor parties and to Mar Mattai Monastery.
Furthermore and in accordance with guidelines laid down by the Charity Commission and the UK banking authorities, all charitable funding must be sent through proper banking circles directly to the end user or partner and not through any 3rd parties. Therefore, it is not possible to send funds, for example, via London-based Orthodox churches.
Support given by ICIN for the Syriac Orthodox community includes:
• donations in the total sum of $20,000 made by ICIN in 2010 at the request of Bishop Youhana Ibrahim of Aleppo for the care of Iraqi Orthodox refugees who fled to Aleppo. This included food parcels, heating equipment and fuel and the support of a computer training centre; • the support of 3 medical clinics in Erbil in 2014/15 including Um Al-Noor clinic following the invasion of Mosul and Nineveh villages by Daesh when over US$120,000 was sent by ICIN to the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee of which Archbishop Nicodimus Dawod Sharaf, Syriac Archbishop of Mosul, Kirkuk, and Kurdistan was a member.