Helping. It makes sense.

Nov 22, 2020 | Education, Great job, Occupational therapies

When helping people in a country such as Iraq, it needs to be taken into consideration that not everything will always go according to a plan.

The worst thing is powerlessness. In some cases, we are simply unable to help. There are complicated and costly medical surgeries that we are unable to finance. There are choices between buying food for several dozen families or opening a new workplace. We are forced to take such decisions practically every day. Sometimes, despite good intentions, a shop, or a workshop that we helped to open needs to be closed down. There are various reasons for it, which often are beyond the business owners’ control.

Exactly a year ago I summed up the Good Job project (What effects does the Great Job bring?). I described the project and gave several examples of workplaces that were functioning very well, but also of those that did not survive a year. Specifically, three were closed down. In one case, it was due to a very high rent which made the business unprofitable. The stock was moved to a different shop, more precisely to a shop of a cousin of two sisters who were the owners of that particular business – a small cosmetic store. Luckily, both of them found well-paid jobs and now they can provide for themselves. Another shop, which was run by refugees in the Kabar 2 camp, had to be closed due to low demand. This sometimes happens, especially in places where most people are jobless and with no sources of income.

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The third shop, a copy shop, stopped working due to a family tragedy. This is a very sad story showing very well that the psychological effects of war stay with people for the rest of their lives. In 2017, we visited a family in the Esiyan camp in Kurdistan. It was a woman with five children whose husband was murdered by ISIS terrorists. Her oldest son was then 18 and was the only breadwinner for the family because Khoke needed constant care. During her escape from ISIS, she got a spine injury. She was heavily pregnant at the time. She was unable to work, hence her oldest son took on the responsibilities of the head of the family. Together with the YES foundation from the UK we financed her operation, and for the boy we opened a copy shop where people could develop pictures, edit documents and save them on data carriers. Unfortunately, several months ago I saw on Facebook a picture of a familiar face with a black ribbon. The boy committed suicide. He was unable to handle the lack of perspectives for the future – a common nightmare for many young people living in camps for internally displaced persons.

A pendulum swings back and forth.

I will finish this short article with a good accent. There are many more positive than negative news. We often receive information from people with whom we work on various projects that someone’s life has changed for the better after our intervention. Several businesses have grown so much that their owners needed to hire new employees. Others were able to rebuild their houses and even to donate money to help rebuild more workplaces.

At the beginning of the year, we helped the families of two hunters from Sinjar who were kidnapped and killed by ISIS. For one family we opened a car repair workshop as that was what they had been doing before the war. For the second, we opened a greenhouse. The brother of the murdered man took care of the family and together they have been growing vegetables. In May we received a short movie in which the man talked about plans for the upcoming crop seasons. Now we know which crops bore the first harvest. After deducting all the expenses, the family earned 2000 dollars of profit which in the region where they live is a great income. I hope that the next seasons will be even better. I will try to update you with how the family’s situation will develop.

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The second positive event, although in this case the situation is more complex, is the reopening of the OurBridge center in Khanke. Since March, Iraq has been under a lockdown which has led to the closure of schools, among others. There is remote learning, but as I mentioned in the last article, it is a faction. Children living in camps for internally displaced people have no equipment for online learning. Internet is paid, while the cost of purchasing a tablet or a laptop is too large for the vast majority of families. The situation is becoming dramatic because the education of refugee children was already interrupted for many years before. Many of them didn’t go to school at the age of six or seven but two or three years later. Such delays are difficult to make up for. For nearly 400 children from the Khanke camp, OurBridge center was a ray of hope. Apart from education, it offered therapeutic classes and other activities allowing proper child development. In October all schools were opened, but merely a month later they were closed again. The volunteers and teachers from Ourbridge did not give up and prepared a detailed plan which allowed them to obtain a permit for the center’s functioning. Most likely it is the only educational institution in the entire Kurdistan that has been functioning despite the lockdown. Hence our support will be indispensable to allow lessons to take place without obstacles, obviously under all the necessary sanitary conditions. Several days ago we donated funds that will make this happen.

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