Imagine If You Could Restore What ISIS Stole

The middle of the night is the best time to find Mushtaq at work. The street is finally free of traffic, and the barber shop next door is closed. The lights in his bakery illuminate the busy activity inside, spilling out through the windows and onto the sidewalk.

For three years, ISIS occupied this neighbourhood in west Mosul. For three years, Mushtaq’s bakery was dark. Under ISIS rule, it was impossible for him to get enough flour to make bread. Even if he could find enough, it wouldn’t matter—no one had any money to buy bread.

Breadmaking is hot, tiring work. Mushtaq works from midnight until 10:00 a.m. But if you ask him, simply being able to work again is sheer joy.

Bags of flour stacked up in Mushtaq’s bakery. When ISIS occupied the city, it was impossible to get supplies like flour, and Mushtaq had to close his shop.

It’s impossible to miss the bags of flour stacked up behind Mushtaq, piled nearly to the ceiling. They are a beautiful symbol of promise.

You invested in Mushtaq’s business, allowing him to reopen his bakery when the city of Mosul was finally liberated from ISIS. Your investment put paint on the walls, provided glass for broken windows, purchased a generator and trucked in water.

And it bought flour. Lots of flour.

As for Mushtaq, he has thrown himself in completely into making his bakery a success—he has powerful motivation for doing so.

Since Mushtaq’s father died five years ago, he’s been the head of his household, responsible to provide for his mom and four younger siblings. Mushtaq graduated from university the same year his father died—but there weren’t any jobs waiting for graduates like him.

Folks took whatever work they could find, and Mushtaq decided to start a bakery near his house so he could be close to his family if they needed him. He hired experienced bakery workers who stood shoulder to shoulder with him and taught him how to make his first batches of bread.

Flour on the workbench in Mushtaq’s bakery. He bakes from midnight to 10 a.m. each day and supplies fresh bread to the neighborhood.

Mushtaq was just 24 years old when he lost his dad, took responsibility for the whole family, and became a business owner for the first time. He’s not afraid of doing hard things.

It was quite a blow, then, when ISIS took over his city. He had just nicely settled into his business when he had to shut it down. There was no work. So he stayed in his family home and protected those he loved.

These days, since you helped Mushtaq reopen his bakery, he keeps an eye on his house through the store window, while he’s busy forming and baking small loaves of bread.

“If a man is working, he should enjoy his work,” Musthaq says. “And when he can sell his wares and earn money for what he does, then he should enjoy that.”

Mushtaq waited three long years to be able to provide for his family again from the work of his hands. Thanks to you, he doesn’t have to wait any longer.

As families put their lives back together after war, they don’t want to rely on handouts. They want to provide for themselves. You can help them take the first step.

Make your year-end gift today and help refugees launch their own businesses in 2018.