What did we manage to do in 2020? A short summary and plans for the future.
This year has been a real test for humanitarian organizations. Restrictions, movement bans, and many other inconveniences were a significant challenge for us as well. However, we managed to work continuously and bring help without larger interruptions.
I wrote about activities during a lockdown in Iraq in two articles on our website (Helping in the time of the pandemic, Help during the time of the pandemic, part 2 ) and our social media. Today I would like to shortly sum up the last year and to say a few words about our plans for the next 12 months.
At the beginning of December, we purchased tarpaulins which will be used to replace old and destroyed tent covers in the Sardashty camp. It is the largest wild encampment located on a plateau on top of the Sinjar Mountain. Thanks to your support transferred through the 1% tax return (through the Children Aid Foundation in Żywiec) we were able to protect 250 families against difficult weather conditions, mainly those with children and elderly. Obviously, the needs are much larger. 2000 families live in the Sardashty camp. This equals to more than 10,000 people counting on our help.
We are often forced to react to changing conditions
During the entire year we were helping people to meet the most basic needs. We were providing food as well as cleaning and personal hygiene products during the lockdown. In cooperation with Caritas Poland, we twice provided powdered milk to children from unofficial camps in Kurdistan. It was a continuation of actions that we started in the previous year. Every child received a supply of powdered milk for at least three months. Milk purchase was a large financial burden for hundreds of families. But we have to emphasize that those were residents of small, unofficial camps which are usually left out of any external help. Such places are spread all around Iraqi Kurdistan. Not many know about them because usually they are set up on the outskirts of small towns and villages, far away from main roads or large cities.
We carried on with financial support for the educational center for women and children OurBridge in Khanke that we started in 2018. Due to restrictions, the center had to be closed in March, but thanks to well-developed sanitary plans and strong determination of its educators, it could be opened again. Currently, it is most probably the only educational center in entire Kurdistan that operates normally. Some time ago I wrote that remote learning for children living in camps for internally displaced people is a fiction – it simply does not work. But it is very important that children learn and catch up with the curriculum which they were forced to neglect due to war and terrorist activities. In the spring we equipped a tailoring classroom in the center in Shariya, where a large refugee camp is located. Here, women and children that went through ISIS captivity take classes as well. Sewing classes are part of activity therapy which allows them to return to normal lives and get over traumatic experiences of months- and even years-long captivity.
We are still going down the same road.
The spectrum of our activities in 2020 was quite diverse. Apart from ad hoc activities, we were also trying to focus on development projects. In total, we managed to open 24 new workplaces, such as a bee-garden, a generator service, a car repair workshop, a bakery, or a greenhouse. Shops, workshops, and other workplaces within the Great Job project’s framework were created mainly in the Sinjar and Nineveh regions. Some of them were created from scratch. In several cases, we aimed at developing already existing businesses so they could bring more income to families that run them. Today (this article was written on Boxing Day) works for the opening of a hair salon in Sardashty were finished. Altogether, by now we’ve opened exactly 80 workplaces within the Good Job project framework.
Another three families are currently moving into newly built houses in Sinjar. These are very good news because numerous restrictions in Iraq, including the closing of roads between regions, delayed works very much. Soon we will show you pictures and movies and they are worth waiting for because the result is great.
There were many places where we were active this year. The most important thing is that help was reaching the needy without interruptions. Thanks to you, the lives of tens of people were changed for the better. We would like to thank you on their behalf.
Summary of Eaglewatch activities in 2020
Plans for 2021
Our plans for the next year are quite simple. First of all, we want to continue activities which till now have brought good results. Building new houses for families that have returned to Sunjar, opening new workplaces, and supporting the OurBridge educational center in Khanke are our obvious goals. Moreover, we would like to start courses and activities for women and children in our center in Sardashty, which has been created thanks to you and funds gathered through 1% tax return in the previous years. We would like to start working in other places as well since terrorism is still occurring in many regions of the world. Currently, the largest terrorist threat exists in the Sahel region in southern Sahara. But these are only plans and we need to wait and see how much we will be able to achieve in the future.
But we are determined to work. We have gained even more experience and we want to continue learning how to help in the best and most effective way. If you stay with us, I’m sure together we will be able to do a lot of good.