Today, the first anniversary of the I Have Family In Iraq 2015 Delegation, this beautiful artwork was blessed and installed at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield, Ill. It carries with it a prayer for peace in Iraq and a commitment to solidarity with our Iraqi Dominican Sisters and Brothers and the people they serve.
The 1000 Cranes for Iraq project was conceived by Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP (Adrian) who painted these nine crane images and many more. The installation was created by Springfield Dominican Sister Margaret Therese Hebert with the assistance of Mr. Bob Fox.
On August 6, 2014, tens of thousands of Christians, including the Iraqi Dominican Sisters, Yazidis, and other minorities fled from northern Iraq, leaving everything behind, as ISIS terrorists invaded their towns and villages. Since then they have been living as “internally displaced persons” in camps in Kurdish territory, without safe shelter, adequate nutrition, potable water or basic health care – losing hope of ever returning to their centuries-old home.
Our Iraqi Dominican Sisters, themselves displaced by ISIS, have given themselves over to caring for their fellow exiles. From distributing foam mattresses and plastic chairs to opening a health clinic to dispense medications and a makeshift school for displaced children, the Sisters are signs of hope as they attend to the needs of the people, honoring their human dignity.
The project centers on an ancient Japanese tradition of senbazuru, which promises that a person who folds 1000 cranes will be granted a wish. The tradition was rekindled by a Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl exposed to radiation from the Hiroshima atomic bomb who learned about the ancient story of the cranes and began folding them, praying for health and world peace. Sadako died of leukemia at age 12 before she could finish 1000 cranes but her classmates completed the project. A statue of Sadako in the Peace Park in Hiroshima bears the inscription: “This is our cry, this is our prayer, peace in the world.”
To support the work of our Iraqi Dominican Sisters with the refugees in northern Iraq visit www.1OOOcranesforiraq.org.