Valley visit could help rebuild Iraq

FRESNO, Calif.

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Praise Chapel of Fresno hosted two women who live in Kurdish, Northern Iraq.

Action News got a chance to sit down with them and using a translator, we found out what they endured while living under Saddam Hussein's regime.

Zakia Abdukhaleq is one of many Kurds who left Iraq during Saddam Hussein's reign.

Hussein forced Kurds out of the country in the early 1990s. They were only able to come back after the U.S. invasion.

Shireen Fattah was also persecuted. Fattah says Hussein forced the Kurds out of Northern Iraq by moving thousands of Arabs onto their land. Years after his downfall, the women are working to rebuild the region.

Pastor Orvil McKinnis of Praise Chapel in Fresno visited Northern Iraq earlier this year. His experiences inspired him and his congregation to help.

On Monday the group will tour farms in the Westlands Water District. Later in the week they will visit a tomato processing plant, an almond processing plant and lettuce fields.

Both women say they hope their visit strengthens ties between the Kurdish people and the United States. Someday they'd like to see an exchange program between students in both countries.

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