[Image description: Ashur and two other men are walking on the sidewalk outside the store, carrying boxes of paper, pens, a laminator machine, and other office supplies. They are all smiling.]

Where the money goes: Ashur’s Copy Shop Business

Watch the video of Ashur’s story here.
[Image description: photo of Ashur, and Iraqi man. He is smiling at the camera. He has gray hair and a mustache, and is wearing a blueish-gray polo shirt.]

One of the most satisfying things Quint and I were able to do in Erbil was to help Ashur begin his own copy shop business through one of our small business redevelopment grants.

Ashur was living in Baghdad with his wife and two young children, and had a government job. One day a militia showed up at his door and told him that as a Christian, he had 2 days to leave or they would kill his whole family. They fled to Erbil that night.

After spending time homeless in Erbil, Ashur and his family were found and helped by one of our partners, Hanna, and his church, Christian & Missionary Alliance Church/Erbil (CMA). Through Hanna, SWIC was able to give Ashur a small business redevelopment grant of $900 for a new copy shop business. These pictures follow that journey of creating hope, which ultimately created a whole new life for a family.

We drove through Ankawa, the by-now familiar Christian quarter of Erbil.

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We drove to a hardware store Hanna had found, whose owner would give us a good deal on equipment and supplies for Ashur’s copy shop.

[Image description: Ashur walking along a sidewalk past different stores, on his way to the hardware store.]

We found everything we needed except the laser printer, which was in a warehouse but would be delivered the next day to Ashur’s apartment, which CMA had found for his family.

[Image description: Ashur and a young man kneel on the floor of a store, looking at a printer still in its plastic wrapping. There are shelves of books and notebooks around them.]

Of course, the necessary bargaining and haggling took place.

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Until finally everything he needed was purchased, and a very happy Ashur left the store with the means to begin a new sustainable business.

[Image description: Ashur and two other men are walking on the sidewalk outside the store, carrying boxes of paper, pens, a laminator machine, and other office supplies. They are all smiling.]

We needed to make one more stop – to pick up the new desk that would allow him to professionalize the space in his very sparsely furnished apartment and properly conduct business.

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[Image description: Yusuf and Ashur sit on the bed of the truck, looking at the camera. There are a few boxes of supplies and more pieces of the desk in the bed of the truck.]

Ashur’s friend Yusuf (wearing the red shirt, above) knew only a little English, and missed his calling as a comic. His wife had recently left him and he was convinced that if I posted these pictures on the internet she would see them, and fall in love with him all over again. Every time I said something to him he answered back with a huge smile, “I love you!” I’d say, “Yusuf, I love you too.” To which he invariably replied, “I love you three!” and laugh his head off. Yusuf, here’s the pics. Good luck with your wife!

[Image description: Ashur and Father Chris stand next to the bed of the truck, looking at the camera and posing for the photo. They have their arm around the other's shoulders.]

Finally, the desk and most of the copy shop material, (except the laser printer), ready to go, Ashur said goodbye to Quint and me. He promised to report on the progress of his business to Hanna who would pass it on to us. That was October 14, 2016. It is now November. Hanna told me on Skype this week that Ashur’s business is doing extremely well. He is the only copy shop in his neighborhood full of IDPs, and there is a huge demand for papers, documents, and duplications as no one can go anywhere in Iraq without proper ID and documentation. Thanks to your support, SWIC was able to help Ashur provide a new future for his family and provide a valuable and needed service for countless others. And this is just the beginning! We hope to help many such worthy and life-giving ventures in the future with these small business redevelopment grants!

Watch the video of Ashur’s story here.

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