The Phoenix Base Foundation was created as a result of my first tour of duty in Iraq in 2004. Towards the end of my tour, the unit to which I was assigned, Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I) moved its offices from the Presidential Palace into another building inside the Green Zone. This building had formerly been a school reserved exclusively for the children of relatives and cronies of Saddam Hussein. When MNSTC-I took over this building as its headquarters, it and the compound surrounding it were officially designated as Phoenix Base. Once I moved into my office at Phoenix Base, I had easy access to my office in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense (MoD) which was situated right next to Phoenix Base.
In regards to custodial and janitorial services for Phoenix Base, a Saudi Arabian company (Laudes) was awarded the contract. This company hired local Iraqis to perform the work. This is how I came to meet and become friends with the Iraqi woman who cleaned my office: Ms. Nadira (Nadra) Audisho.
I came to know Ms. Audisho very well through my interpreter because she could not speak a word of English and my Arabic was extremely limited. Once I learned Ms. Audisho’s story, I came to realize how fortunate Americans are to have freedom of religion as a basic right as a U.S. citizen. When I met Ms. Audisho, her story was extremely sad. She was a widow. She told me that her husband had been killed by Saddam simply due to the fact that he was a Christian. Without a husband, she had no choice but to work as a cleaning woman for the equivalent of $30US a month in order to support herself and her four children (two boys and two girls). Despite this difficult life, her faith in her religion was extremely strong and not once in all my conversations with her did she express any desire to abandon her faith despite the fact that, at the time, she and her family were receiving death threats because of their Christian faith.
Upon my return to the U.S. at the end of my tour, I was determined to find some way to help Ms. Audisho and her family. Despite having financial difficulties of my own, I started providing her with financial support on a monthly basis. This proved to be a real life saver about a year later when she had to flee Baghdad with her children because her two young daughters (ages 12 & 14) were being threatened. Handwritten notes were tacked to the front door of her rented house informing her that unless she gave up her daughters for marriage to Muslim men (where the daughters had to convert to Islam), they would be kidnapped, raped and murdered. Under these circumstances, she had no choice but to flee to Irbil in northern Iraq like many other Iraqi Christians who were living in Baghdad at that time.
After Ms. Audisho settled in Irbil, I continued to help her financially. Her oldest child, a son, became an adult while living in Irbil. He was able to find a job, get married and was able to immigrate to Sweden with his new bride. One of the daughters got married in 2010 thus leaving just two children for Ms. Audisho to support. Ms. Audisho is now able to comfortably support the two children still living with her by working in a small dress shop and with the financial support I am still providing on a monthly basis.
Helping Ms. Audisho escape what could have been a terrible fate for her and her daughters motivated me to try to find ways to help other Iraqi Christians. Because of this, I created the Phoenix Base Foundation (“PBF”). The Phoenix Base Foundation is a formal, official way for me to do what I have been doing all along. It is a non-profit corporation formed by me in 2010 for the purpose of providing financial assistance to displaced Iraqi Christian families. Currently, Ms. Audisho and her two children are the only Iraqi Christians I am able to help through the Phoenix Base Foundation. However, it is my hope that someday my regular business will be successful enough so that it will enable me to properly and adequately fund this non-profit organization so that it can support as many displaced Iraqi Christian families as possible.
Name: Phoenix Base Foundation, Inc.
Date organized: 2010
State where organized: California
Director: Elton Johnson, Jr.
Officers: Elton Johnson, Jr. (President, Secretary & Treasurer)
Address: 26550 Silverado Court, Moreno Valley, CA 92555
Tel 888-960-0644 Ext. 700