For the amount collected through 1% tax donations we are building a children’s center

Jan 27, 2020 | Education, Occupational therapies

An educational center, a cultural center, a common room. A complex, which we have already started building, is meant to be an institution combining characteristics of all these places.

It will be a safe haven for children from a wild encampment located on the plateau on the top of the Sinjar Mountain. The funds for this purpose come from 1% of tax collected thanks to cooperation with the Children Help Foundation in Żywiec. In the last two tax years (2017 and 2018) you donated more than 90,000 zlotys to help children in Iraq. This money will now allow us to build a common room for them.

Sar dashty

Sar dashty, literally translated, means “a plateau on top of a mountain”. It is a vast plain which crowns the Mount Sinjar. For thousands of years this land has belonged to Yazidis, although it is also inhabited by Christians who at the outset of the 20th century were saved by the Yazidis from a genocide which was at the time carried out against Christians by the Ottoman Empire. Although it looks like a fairy tale place, there is a tragic story behind it. When in August 2014 ISIS surrounded the Yazidis, thousands of families fled to the mountains.

They were usually fleeing on foot. Only those lucky ones who had cars managed to take some food and water with them. All the others did not have time to take anything before setting off up the curvy roads leading to the north. The mountain was to protect them, just like during other genocides that happened in the past. However, hundreds of people died of thirst and exhaustion during that torturous march. Thousands were murdered by terrorists or captured. Many, however, managed to arrive at the top of the mountain.

Before ISIS’ incursion in 2014, Sar dashty was a small village with merely several houses. A picturesque territory of the plateau – the Mount Sinjar’s terrace – used to be a place where hundreds of families would spend their free time. A vast plateau surrounded by mountains was ideal for short trips or picnics. After 2014 events the mountain became a safe place for thousands of families that fled there in search for shelter.
Over time, their nomadic encampment was turned into a full-fledged camp for internally displaced persons. Full-fledged, but not official. Which means that even though five years have passed from that tragedy, there still has been no organized help for the camp’s several thousand inhabitants. What makes the situation even more dramatic is that they live just a few kilometers away from their own homes, which have been turned into ruins full of landmines and unexploded bombs.

Building of a common room

There is only one school in Sar dashty, if it can be called as such. Basic level classes are held there. To continue education, the youth needs to travel to schools located kilometers away. Healthcare is a similar case. There is a small GP practice in the neighboring town, where painkillers and simple antibiotics can be obtained. The nearest hospital is several hours’ drive away.

We are not able to do much in this situation. To build full infrastructure that would include education, healthcare, water and electricity access would require millions of dollars. However, that does not mean we should not do anything at all.

Thanks to the money collected through 1% tax donations we have started to build something resembling a common room or an educational center. We have not come up with a name yet – maybe you could help us with that? Let’s think. We hope it will be a place for children living in camps, where hired teachers and supervisors will be offering extracurricular activities. In the following paragraph I will write more about specific activities that we are planning to organize. Now, I would like to focus on technical data and general assumptions and costs of the project.

The common room will consist of several containers. Practically, we can already talk about it in present tense as the basic work has already been done. We transferred the money in December, and our friends from the Shengal Charity Organization started work immediately. The containers will serve as classrooms. There will be a kitchen as well, where in the winter children will be able to have a cup of tea or a warm meal. The whole area of the common room is 250 square meters, including a small square in the middle. So far, the cost has reached around 10,000 euros, or around 43,000 zlotys. This money has been spent on the purchase of the containers as well as transport and other materials necessary to create the center’s basic infrastructure.

We have allocated another 10,000 euros for the purchase of a school bus. It will be a small bus, similar to the one we bought together with the OurBridge center in Khanke. Its role will be to take children to classes, as the Sar dashty camp extends over a huge area. Some „districts” are kilometers away from each other.

Future plans

After the center is finished and the bus is purchased, classes can begin. For a start we are planning to hire one person who will be teaching English and organizing games and fun. It may not seem much, but children living in the Sar dashty camp have no place where they could spend their free time. There are no playgrounds, parks, there is no proper playing field either. Boys play football in the mud, and even though we may say so did we as kids, I think it is worth to give them something better. In a common room children will be able to learn and do their homework in decent conditions. Maybe with time we will be able to develop this idea and introduce other activities and classes.

We are also planning to organize courses for adults, such as tailoring and language learning. We have successfully introduced similar activities in Khanke. We know they bring great results. These are costs reaching thousands of dollars, but I hope that with time we will manage to make it happen.

We have many plans and ideas. We hope we will achieve more because, as I have already described it, help in the form of therapy is much needed. Hence, we would like to ask you to contribute 1% of your tax this year to help children in Iraq. All information is available below and under the ”1%” bookmark.

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