A Canadian Jewish businessman who was inspired by the work of Oskar Schindler during the Holocaust has rescued more than 120 Iraqi Christian and Yazidi girls from the Islamic State terror group.
Steve Maman, 42, founded the group Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI) after the jihadist group conquered northern Iraq last year, displacing more than 120,000 people while forcing many non-Muslims they captured to either convert or die. Many women and children were also taken as sex slaves by the Islamic State fighters.
“We liberate children from their captors through the use of on-the-ground brokers,” Maman told the U.K. Catholic newspaper The Tablet.
According to Maman, many of the girls who were kidnapped, some as young as 8, were used as sex slaves and raped as many as 30-40 times a day.
Maman said the money he has raised has come from many of his Jewish business associates, which he called “very generous.” But those associates, he said, have failed to generate support from Christians in Canada.
“This is a finite problem that can be solved with money,” Maman said. “We need Christians to open up at the same rate as my Jewish friends have.”
Maman has also launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding webpage that has raised $267,214 as of Wednesday, with a goal of $2 million. According to Maman, the freed girls are escorted to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they are given short-term shelter, food, and medical care, with additional assistance to help them relocate and rebuild their lives.
“The price of a child’s life to remove them from the hands of ISIS is between $1,000-$3,000,” Maman said on his fundraising page. “We, as avid consumers, spend that money on gadgets and tools. Why not spend that money to SAVE A LIFE?”