Over the weekend of the 18/19th April, the UK section of Aid to the Church in Need, in partnership with the Roman Catholic Holy Name Church, held the fundraising and educational One Night for Iraq vigil, in the British northern city of Manchester.
One Night for Iraq, was organised with the primary aim of highlighting the plight of Iraq’s displaced Christian community and brought together a diverse section of Manchester residents, in a first of the kind demonstration, of active solidarity.
Held at the Holy Name Catholic Church, One Night for Iraq, united a broad base of people within a programme of events, which were organised within a Catholic framework and pointed a spotlight of attention onto the work of Aid to the Church in Need, in helping displaced people in countries like Iraq and Syria.
One Night began with a poignant and powerful Mass, which was lead by Father Tim Byron of the Jesuit priests, who reinforced the need for community cohesion and solidarity, along with inviting an Iraqi and Columbian to carry out a prayer reading during the service.
Caroline Hull, the North West regional manager of Aid to the Church in Need, also spoke about the ongoing work of the charity in both Iraq and Syria, along with highlighting other examples of ACN support, among all refugee’s in countries like the Lebanon.
Throughout the night, examples of Church run projects were shown through a variety of films and talks, which examined in closer details, the spiritual and humanitarian dimensions of the charity.
A powerful presentation was also made by the London based pop group Ooberfuse, who described their horror at the plight facing Iraq’s displaced communities, and have since written and released a fundraising song called We Are One, with proceeds going to Iraq.
As Caroline Hull also explained, all aid efforts run by aid to the Church in Need are fully inclusive, with Church lead initiatives in the Middle East, benefiting the entire Middle Eastern community.,irrespective of a persons ethnicity or religion.
Besides the strong Roman Catholic presence, others who attended One Night, included members of Manchester’s Muslim and agnostic communities, who described the “warmth”, “friendship” and “hospitality”, that was shown towards them.
Messages of support, along with an enthusiastic presence, was also shown by members of Manchester’s 18.000 strong Iraqi community, who described to those in attendance, some of the more personal accounts and experiences, which their families and friends have encountered in Iraq.
Notable people present at One Night, included an 89 year old British-Catholic woman and another woman, who had been operated on earlier in the day at the Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital, who both joined One Night at the beginning of Mass at 8pm on Saturday 18th and remained at the event, until the following morning on the 19th April.
One Night concluded with the Sunday morning Mass, which was presided over by Father William of the Jesuit Priests, and the entire event was concluded by a traditional Iraqi breakfast, which was donated in parts by a local Turkish food company.
Aid to the Church in Need is a UK registered charity, whose extensive work in Iraq, is funded through donations made by the British public.If you are concerned by the plight of the Iraqi people and would like to support the work of ACN, then please contact them on 020 8642 8668,
by Hussein Al-alak, editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)