Sometimes we need to help thousands of people, another time it is just one person

Dec 20, 2019 | Eaglewatch in Iraq, Livestock, Urgent cases

We have already come back home and immediately got back to work. Now we need to write financial statements for our projects and make preparations for other activities.

We have already come back home and immediately got back to work. Now we need to write financial statements for our projects and make preparations for other activities. In the previous article I was describing interviews conducted with families that have received livestock from us. They were not easy. Many of them are single mothers with children whose husbands were murdered by ISIS or who have gone missing. Many of those women and children survived captivity in the ISIS’ hands.

Practically all of them want to go back to Sinjar – their hometown – but at the moments it is impossible. The region is still unsafe. Huge swathes of land or covered with landmines. The most basic infrastructure needs rebuilding. However, these conversations have allowed us to draw some optimistic conclusions – as far as optimism can be found in such a situation.

Sometimes thousands of people need to be helped.

At the beginning of December, I went alone to Iraq (for those who do not know, I – David Czyż – am the narrator of all posts you can find on this website and the Eaglewatch’s social media). Bartek and Andrzej Rzepecki arrived after several days.

Dawid Czyż

Andrzej has been a member of the Eaglewatch Foundation Council for the last few months. He is also the vice-president of the board of the Innovaid Foundation, which carries out humanitarian projects in Uganda. Thanks to his expertise and knowledge we have managed to receive a co-funding from KPRM (the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland) for 4 projects in Iraq. Apart from purchasing the livestock for 180 families, we have also built 65 houses in Sinjar, and for the last few months we have been supporting the educational center Ourbridge in Khanke. We have also purchased medical equipment for the oncology center in Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Andrzej Rzepecki and Bartosz Rutkowski

I have recently written quite a lot about the ‘beasties’ – our informal name for the project that deals with building crofts and supplying families with livestock. In this and previous year we were able to support 260 families in Khanke, Sinjar, Bashiqa and Karnjook in this way. This is certainly our greatest achievement in terms of the scale of assistance.

I have also written in a separate article about the building of 65 houses in Sinjar. Currently, all houses are ready. What is left is connecting electricity and inserting windows. All works will be finished in the next few days.

The third project for which we have received funding is the educational center Ourbridge in Khanke. I have written about this place many times, so I will just link you to earlier articles. Unfortunately, funding for this project runs out this year and from January we will have to finance it on our own. With your help, we will for sure manage to do that.
The last project’s aim is to purchase equipment for the Children Oncology Center JIN in Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan. The center will be supplied with a vein finder, an ultrasound and a cardiomonitor. This will allow little patients to avoid long trips to other medical centers to get basic examinations. The JIN Centre treats children from the neighboring towns and villages as well as refugee children. It provides excellent conditions (which from now on will be even better) and very professional care. I have visited the center many times. I have spoken to its doctors, very warm and friendly people completely devoted to their job. By the time you read this article, the equipment will be already there.

Unpredicted things.

Let’s go back for a moment to our visit. I had finished my task by the time Bartek and Andrzej arrived. Later on I could focus on documenting our trip. After their arrival, the next task was to prepare financial statements of a project carried out with local foundations, whose hands did all the work. These foundations include: SCO – Shengal Charity Organization, Gilgamesh Organization for Development and Relief, and Ourbridge. The first two were involved in the construction of houses, supplying families with livestock and purchasing medical equipment. With these, we have closed the projects and discussed all the issues and plans for the next year. We have been cooperating with them for two years over which we have developed friendly relations. They host us in their houses where we sleep on the floor and thanks to their help we can reach the most needy people.

Of course, some unpredicted things happen on every visit. During our conversations with families, we often find out about their needs which we try to meet as far as possible. And it is not always possible. However, if the financial means are there, we act immediately. While visiting families who we have built crofts for, I sank into the mud up to my ankles. It was raining – a typical weather at this time of the year in Iraq – and soil around tents and animal shelters turned into a bog. Eight families live there, all of them single mothers with children, who on their way to school sink in the mud. Feeding the animals is a challenge. We went to a local stone warehouse and bought three dumper tracks of aggregate to build the road. The women’s neighbors came to our help and the next day most of the job was done.

We have visited the Havalty Camp as well. Currently, eight families are living there, most of them former ISIS captives. It is an informal camp which is not on the map of humanitarian organizations. We try to support them every time we are there, as apart from their neighbors they cannot count on any other help. We have already provided them with livestock. Not a long time ago we bought them new roof coverings, heaters and heating fuel for the winter. This time they have asked for floor carpets. It may seem prosaic, but concrete floors and walls made of hollow bricks are not the best insulators. A small heater does not give much warmth if the floor they sleep on is cold.

The next day we went to a local store and bought several carpet rolls and insulation foam. Together with the previous purchases, this will be their basic protection from the winter cold.

Some small-town issues.

There were many more meeting and places to visit. Apart from the above-mentioned ones it is worth to tell you about one more. Karnjook is a small village in the Nineveh Plains. 70 families live there. They are mainly farmers supporting themselves with the work of their hands. There is not even a grocery store there. It is a place forgotten by everyone, living its own, peaceful life. However, it is not as idyllic as it may seem at first glance. There are only eleven children in the village. The residents struggled to support their families. We built a few dozens of crofts and bought sheep, goats and hens for them. The village’s leader is an experienced shepherd, who will help the residents with animal husbandry. I think I am allowed to say we have helped the entire community of Karnjook village.

Sometimes only one person needs help.

Before we went to Khanke, I received a very honorable invitation. It was a three-day-long fasting time for the Yazidids, during which wives leave their husbands and spend these days with parents and siblings. Shamoo, whom you met in one of the „From Water to Sand” episodes, is lucky because his wife’s family lives in the same town. He took me on a visit to his wife and their one-year daughter. I had a rare chance to participate in their celebration. On the side note, few days earlier I was invited to the Yazidi wedding. It was completely different than a traditional ceremony. Everything happened in an intimate atmosphere which was far from a Polish wedding.

During that visit, I leared about a girl who lives nearby. She is 20 years old and lives alone, which is very unusual for the Yazidis. In 2007 she lost her parents in the bloodiest terrorist attack since 9/11. In Til Ezer terrorists drove three cars full of explosives and petrol into a market crowd. 800 people were killed, and 1,500 were injured. Several years later the Islamists carried out genocide on the Yazidis. The girl survived, but she was severely traumatized. In addition to that, her brother went abroad and does not keep in touch with her. She is completely on her own. Her neighbors and friends visit her from time to time providing food and clothes. We left 250 euros with Shamoo to buy the most basic things for her. That was all we could do at the moment.

Before our departure, we visited Alqush in the Nineveh Plains. While waiting for a meeting, we did a little tour around the city with our friend Athra. He showed us many places not included in any Kurdistan guidebooks. It is an incredible feeling when you drive past a little house by the road and you find out it is several hundred-years-old. On Sunday we came back home. I immediately started writing and preparing materials to show you our work.

See also:

How many years separate today from tomorrow?

I will start by telling you a little bit about the aims of our trip to Iraq which will be the last one this year. The first aim, which has already been mostly achieved, is to interview families that received livestock from us.

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