Rebuilding workplaces: the “Great Job” project

Apr 19, 2019 | Featured, Great job

I have written about the “Great Job” project many times. Now I would like to gather it all up in one place in order to better explain how this idea works in practice and whom it serves.

I will start from the beginning, namely from the establishment of ISIS.

The Islamic State, sometimes called ISIS (an acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or Daesh (an Arabic acronym of ISIS) was established in 2003 (it has changed its name many times ever since). After the American invasion of Iraq, the Sunni Muslim fundamentalist groups launched an armed insurgency seeking to establish a state governed by the sharia (the Islamic law). They carried out numerous terrorist attacks, targetting primarily civilians.

The first wave of large-scale attacks took place between 2006 and 2007 when ISIS carried out an attack on Yazidis in Til Ezer (Arab. Al– Qahtaniyah), among others.

Nearly 800 people were killed, and 1500 were injured in that attack. A tank with fuel and three cars filled with explosives were detonated on the square when a crowd of people were doing their everyday shopping there. It was the second after the 9/11 terrorist attack in terms of the number of casualties.

The second wave started during the American troops’ withdrawal from Iraq.

Between 2010 and 2012, several thousand people died in tens of attacks. The main targets were Shiites and Christians in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul and Tikrit.

The peak of those crimes was between 2013 and 2014, when ISIS launched a swift offensive, taking control over large swaths of territory in Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Hundreds of towns were captured by terrorists, and hundreds of thousands of people needed to flee their hometowns. In June 2014 terrorists conquered Christian towns in the Nineveh Plains, not far from Mosul. That included the largest Christian towns in Iraq: Qaraqosh, Tel Keppe, Bashiqa, Bartella, and many other smaller ones.

More than a hundred thousand Christians fled their homes. The terrorists also captured Mosul – the third largest city in Iraq. It was in Mosul that in June 2014 the establishment of the caliphate – the Islamic State – was announced.

The jihadists started carrying out mass atrocities against civilians, taking it to the media as well: they were recording executions and propaganda movies in order to attract volunteers, who at the time numbered thousands in the ISIS ranks. They mainly included militants from Arab countries and Chechnya, but also from European countries such as France, Germany and Great Britain.

The ruins of al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, where in 2014 the establishment of ISIS was announced.

The militants eagerly destroyed churches, schools and hospitals and blew up or burned down shops and houses in occupied territories. They looted everything of any value. They destroyed many thousands-years-old monuments.

On the 3rd of April 2014 terrorists carried out a genocide of Yazidis in the Sinjar Mountains.

They murdered several thousand men, capturing women and young girls and boys. The latter were trained to become suicide bombers and carry out attacks – according to their ideology a child is of lesser value than an adult militant. Women and girls were forced into sexual slavery. They were sold at slave markets and given out as prizes.

The town of Sinjar and the neighboring towns were razed to the ground. Thousands of Yazidis fled to the mountains, where in the heat exceeding 50°C many people died as a result of dehydration and extreme body exhaustion.

At the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, people slowly started returning to liberated towns.

They found terrible destruction. Their houses, shops, workshops were turned into rubble. For the last three years we have been helping them return to normal lives. It is impossible to endlessly give people food or water without giving them hope.

What has become our goal is to make these people independent from external help. We work towards making them able to provide for themselves and develop their community in order to restore it to what it used to be before the ISIS incursion. That is how the „Great Job – Dobra Praca” project was born (the name was chosen by its beneficiaries).

It is impossible to return home if there is nothing to come back to. We asked the emerging grassroots structures managing the recaptured towns (it was July 2017): how could we help? The answer was immediate: help them rebuild their workplaces. No city can be reconstructed without required craftsmen.

That way within a week we managed to reconstruct locksmith’s and welding shops.

Then came the time for a GP practice and several grocery shops.

It was not difficult to find a doctor. The volunteers from local organizations cooperating with us pointed us to the right person. He was living with his family in a camp for internally displaced persons.

When other residents were coming back, we started receiving requests for help in rebuilding other workplaces.

Clothing stores were opened, while craftsmen received tools enabling them to establish one-man building, renovation and services businesses.

We have also restored hairdresser’s salons (4 in total to date).

If anyone would like to ask – why a hairdresser? Who thinks about things like that after the war? I will answer that there are at least two reasons for that. The first reason is that to restore such an establishment is relatively cheap. As a small organization, we need to choose our targets wisely. It does not mean, however, that we do not get results. One such a business equals to a family being able to provide for itself. The second reason is qualifications. We will not turn a hairdresser into a roofer, or a shoemaker into a baker.

We will be coming back with help as long as possible.

Currently, the ‘Great Job’ project is active in many places: in the Christian Nineveh Plains, in resettlement camps, and in towns to which residents of places occupied by ISIS fled. Since the launch of the project until today there have been more than 50 workplaces created, and every month we open new ones. The cost is usually between 4,000 to 10,000 zlotys, depending on the nature of business.

Obviously, not everyone can be helped this way. There are people who, due to various reasons (illness, disability, lack of qualifications, age), need a different form of support. We will continue being active on many fronts. We will be coming back bringing help as long as possible.

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