A bakery, a reading room, an upholstery workshop… Every new workplace is our great success
The Great Job project was launched exactly three years ago in Qaraqosh, in the heart of the Nineveh Plain. During this time, we have already opened 73 workplaces for families from Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.
The goal of this endeavor is to rebuild shops, workshops and other workplaces destroyed by ISIS terrorists or to create completely new workplaces for families in difficult economic situation.
Such families are plenty in Iraq. Although ISIS was officially defeated more than a year ago, terrorists who managed to escape are still hiding in different regions of Iraq. They pose a real threat to the local populations. Captures for ransom, arsons, robberies and murders are still common occurrences. Many jihadists have found shelter in the mountains between Irbil, which is the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, and Baghdad. According to estimates, hundreds to several thousands of jihadists currently stay there. It is difficult to reach area which stays outside of the government’s control. Intimidated locals are often forced to cooperate with the jihadists against their will. On top of that, the post-war crisis magnified by the coronavirus pandemic is slowing down the reconstruction process in many regions of the country.
Great Job Project – Teleskoff
A professional in the neighbourhood
In the last weeks, we have managed to open twelve small family businesses within the Great Job Project. Apart from the help provided to families, the residents of towns and villages where the Great Project is implemented have got access to professional services in their neighborhood. In total, since the beginning of the year, we have opened nearly twenty workplaces all over Iraq.
Seven out of twelve above-mentioned shops and workshops were created in a Christian town of Teleskoff, located several kilometers from the suburbs of Mosul. Here, in the al-Nuri mosque, the leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced its creation. Mosul was the Iraqi capital of the Islamic State since its takeover by terrorists in June 2014 until it was liberated by the antiterrorist coalition forces in July 2017.
During the war, Teleskoff served as the headquarter for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and some Christian self-defense units. Since October 2016, forces taking part in the Mosul offensive were concentrated there. During that time, families that fled ISIS lived in camps for internally displaced people in nearby Alqosh. Although the town was under ISIS control only for a short time in 2014, it was largely destroyed. The destruction was caused by deliberate devastation carried out by ISIS during its short occupation of Alqosh, as well as by frequent mortar fire from the nearby Batnaya taken over by the fundamentalists. Two weeks were enough for the terrorists to loot and burn down most shops and houses. Even the local cemetery was not saved from devastation.
The first families could return to Teleskoff only at the beginning of 2017 when the front was moved away from the city. When I visited it in March 2017, there were ongoing clashes in nearby Mosul, while 200 families came back to the town. Now there are many more, and the return process is continuing. One family that we have helped to open a laundry came back less than two weeks ago.
Apart from that laundry in Teleskoff, we have also opened an upholstery workshop, a stationery shop, a generator service, a clothing store, and a reading room, or a cafeteria, as it serves as a place where one can borrow books as well as meet up with friends for a coffee. I would like to say a few words about Walid for whom we have opened a generator service. Walid suffers from hand paresis (his hand is missing three fingers missing). However, despite his disability, he does a job that requires manual ability and he does it very well, proving how mentally strong and tough the Iraqi people are.
A bakery for 900 families
While sharing with you information about the newly-opened workplaces, it is worth to mention about another project that we are currently implementing. It’s a bakery that is being built in Duhola in northern Sinjar. Due to numerous restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, such as limitations imposed on the purchase and transport of elements of equipment, the project has been slightly delayed. Luckily, the furnace and necessary materials have already been delivered and a course has been launched to teach two families who will co-manage the bakery how to operate the devices. It will be the first bakery in a town where 900 families currently live. The cost of space preparation, the purchase of a professional furnace with all the necessary equipment, and the one-month course have all amounted to 9,900 dollars or less than 40,000 zlotys. It is more than we usually spend on a single project, but taking into account that two families will operate it, we have decided to go ahead with it. Also, the entire project is a very important element of the local population’s reconstruction.
I hope that more workplaces will be created in different regions of Iraq. There are many potential beneficiaries, as it is the best way to regain self-sufficiency and economic independence. We aim to open a hundred workplaces by the end of this year. Taking into consideration the pandemic that has delayed many of our plans, it would be a great result.