More families have a new roof over their heads

2 December 2023 | Construction of houses

Having a roof over one’s head is the most basic need. Without it, returning to normal life is impossible. This year, we have built and renovated several more houses.

In Iraq, we have built over 70 houses from scratch so far. This year, we added two more to this number, and we renovated several others, installing new windows and doors, among other things. We operate in a similar manner in Ukraine, where in 2022, we repaired damaged roofs in over 170 homes. In recent months, we have also assisted in the major reconstruction of several more houses. It included such works as roof, window, door, and wall repairs.

Behind each of these newly built or renovated houses, there is a human story. A home is not just a building but also a family that will live in it. Today, I will briefly share one of these stories with you.

Gawry and her husband Khuder, along with their seven children, live in Sinjar in northern Iraq. Like all the residents of this region, several years ago they were forced to flee from ISIS. Once the terrorists were driven out, they decided to return to their homeland, fully aware that that it would not be easy.

Both of them are in poor health. Gawry has asthma, which, considering the place they live, can be quite troublesome. Dust can be found everywhere here. Khuder has undergone two kidney surgeries and suffered two heart attacks. He has to take medication on a regular basis. Additionally, they also take care of Khuder’s sister, who has been struggling with trauma since her husband was murdered by ISIS. Currently, the only one in the family who is working is the eldest son.

But they are somehow getting on despite this difficult situation. Thanks to the support they received from friends and family, they managed to build a house. They had enough money only to raise the walls with no windows and doors, but they slowly started moving in. Simply put, they had no other choice. They could barely fit in their old makeshift house, where they had lived until then. A ten-member family was squeezed into two small rooms. To make matters worse, the rain season had just begun and water started to leak in through the leaky roof. To protect their mattresses from getting soaked, they resorted to using buckets and bowls.

And here comes the most important part of this story. This family is getting back on the right tracks through their own relentless effort. They have a house where they can start anew. However, for the next few months they faced the prospect of freezing inside it. From December to February, the weather in Sinjar can be very unpredictable, often bringing severe cold and rain. Snowstorms are not uncommon. For a happy ending, the family needed a helping hand. They managed to secure a part of the necessary funds from one of the local foundations to buy windows and doors for their house. Our contribution covered the rest. As a result, this family will soon be self-reliant, reducing the number of families in urgent need.

What did our assistance amount to? It was approximately 2000 Polish zlotys (about 500 USD/EUR). A modest amount to improve the living conditions of an entire family that was truly in need. I have to add that we received the request for aid not from the family, but from our volunteer who had visited them. They probably would not have dared to ask for support. They might have thought they were already more fortunate than others, considering not everyone in Sinjar has the means to build even a small house.

We are happy that we were able to help. We receive many similar requests, and sadly we are not able to respond to all of them. But in this case, we succeeded.

Orla Straż pomoc na Ukrainie

As mentioned above, we are also working in a similar way in Ukraine. Last year, we repaired the roofs of damaged houses in the areas around Kyiv, where fighting took place from February to April 2022. This year, we assisted in the major reconstruction of several houses in the village of Zavody, located between Kharkiv and Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. In the tumultuous year and a half of ongoing conflict, control of the village changed hands as many as nine times. So far, only 40 residents out of approximately 500 who used to live here have returned.

Despite the challenging circumstances, people are trying to survive somehow. One family lived throughout the summer in a makeshift shed made of wood planks. Military crates served as their table. A teenage girl was attending lessons remotely using her phone. However, the approaching rainy autumn and freezing winter filled the family with dread. Thanks to the aid received from the Siepomaga Foundation and the hard work of volunteers from the St. Martin’s Center in Fastiv, we were able to provide assistance to this and several other families. Each house required different repairs – windows, doors, roofs, walls – depending on the extent of damage. The most important thing was to provide shelter for these people before winter.

Wyremontowany dom Ukraina

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