Aid for refugees and the poor



​Over the past few years in Rhodes and the neighboring island of Kos, the Association pro Terra Sancta regularly provides support to refugees landed from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and to the poorest local families. Through Fr. John Luke Gregory, the Association distributes food and medicine to the most needy and offers help in finding an accommodation.

Association pro Terra Sancta also support the organization of recreational and pastoral activities for children and young people, such as catechism and moments of fraternity in the parish, and offers toys and school materials.


  • Reception of refugees
  • Support for the most vulnerable local families.


  • Families helped by the hospitality centre.

The story

Ahmed was born in the province of Babylon in Iraq, in 1984. Starting from 2006 he studied mathematics at the university where he met Ameena. The following year they got married and the first two children, Fatma and Hassan, arrived. Since university Ahmed – from a Muslim family – has always felt a strong attraction for Christianity. The free and sincere dialogue with some Christian friends at university and with his Catholic neighbor has increased this great desire in him, a desire that his wife and his family have always shared. His big opening towards Christianity and his work for an American oil company made him feel in life danger so that he was forced to escape.


Furthermore, Ahmed refused to join Hezbollah, fact that annoyed the Islamic fanatics in the area who, knowing of his work for the American company, asked him for 50,000 dollars to spare his life. Within a few months the pressures and threats increased: Ahmed and his wife always felt followed and observed. He was forced to escape to Samawah, a city halfway between Baghdad and Basra, about 150 kilometers from his hometown. His wife instead took refuge at her parents’ home. Meanwhile he contacted the American embassy to ask for a visa to leave the country, but he couldn’t obtain it before the due checkings. The time available was short. In 2017 the militiamen tried to kidnap his daughter so that the whole family left the country immediately with destination Ankara, Turkey. From here they moved to one of the many UN refugee camps in the country, where they could stay quiet for a while and calmly decide the future travel. Meanwhile, however, his wife’s physical condition, already affected by intracranial hypertension, worsened. Ahmed would like to take her to a decent hospital in Izmir, but he didn’t have enough money. It addressed the Facebook community where, in addition to the request for help, it also expressed its concerns about Islam. A Waleed contacted him saying that he would have offered 300 Turkish liras, the equivalent of 100 euros, but it was a trap. Waleed was in fact a supporter of Hezbollah and, after their meeting, followed him along with others to the refugee camp to question him and to induce him to repent his statements. But Ahmed refused and was forced to organize another escape. He ran away on a boat to Europe with 32 other people and his family. They landed on the Greek island of Rhodes before being transferred to the island’s temporary refugee centre, an old slaughterhouse in bad conditions. Here is the meeting with Fr. Luke, a Franciscan friar of the Custody of the Holy Land who with the support of the Association pro Terra Sancta used to bring assistance and essential goods to the refugees of the centre. This meeting brought Ahmed and his family to conversion and baptism on January 24, 2018. Today they live in Crete where the wife can receive the necessary care, but they often write to Fr. Luke thankful for the help received at the end of a long and arduous journey, from Babylon to Rhodes, from Islam to Christianity.

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