What is GREAT JOB?
The GREAT JOB project was born during one of our trips to Iraq in 2017. We have been carrying it on to this day, and during these five years, we have opened 100 workplaces.
Everything started in Qaraqosh, a city located 30 kilometers south of Mosul. In 2014, it was taken over by ISIS and remained under the terrorists’ occupation for more than two years. The locals were forced to flee. Those that didn’t make it had to pay ransom by giving away all their belongings in return for their lives. The terrorists were looting shops and workshops, often deliberately blowing them up. The first displaced families were able to return to Qaraqosh at the end of 2016.
The representatives of the recovering community put together a list of the families most in need including their occupations from before the war. The idea was to support them in rebuilding their destroyed workplaces so that they could free themselves from external help. Additionally, the city was gaining indispensable craftsmen and that would encourage other families to return to the city newly liberated from ISIS.
From the beginning of our activities we decided that the best way of aiding people in need would be by asking what kind of support they required. We received a response in the form of the above-mentioned list and we immediately took steps to begin and develop this project. It perfectly matched our basic principle of operation, namely helping the victims of terrorism in their homeland. Two months later, we provided support to the first two workplaces. It was a welder’s shop and a locksmith’s shop.
The beneficiaries of the project named it GREAT JOB.
We only give a fishing rod
Till the end of 2017, we had opened seven workplaces. In the following years, we reached fourteen to thirty small businesses being opened per year. We are also trying to match the support that we provide, such as renovations or the purchase of necessary tools and equipment, with the skills and abilities of any given beneficiary. In other words, we will not turn a shoemaker into a baker, or a plumber into a hairdresser. It seems obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. We should also add that the money for the opening of a business is not given as a loan. I know that many organizations use this model with the reasoning that it incentivizes people to be more proactive and it makes a business more durable. In my opinion, for many it is a hindrance taking a risk which sometimes is required to stay on the market. Apart from that, we often visit people who have received our support and I can assure you that they lack neither commitment nor hard work.
A very good example that I like to give is Abo Yousef whom we helped to open a salad bar at the beginning of 2018 in the town of Bashiqa (near Qaraqosh). Half a year later he asked whether we would mind if he changed the profile of his activity and opened a catering instead of a salad bar. He calculated that it would increase his profits. Of course we supported his idea. We do not interfere in the way the businesses we support operate. Everyone is in charge of their own life, and we merely try to give these people a hand. After several months, Abo Yousef got in touch to tell us that everything was going great. He also twice donated several hundred dollars to help other families in need.
Today Abo Yousef works at school as a physical education teacher. Sport is his passion. As a youth, he was a footballer and then a coach of a local team. Currently, he trains children. The catering business is run by his son, while Abo Yousef reopened the salad bar. He simply likes doing it, as he says.
There are many more such examples. If you would like to learn about other workplaces that we’ve opened, you can find several short movies about the GREAT JOB project on our YouTube channel.
As I mentioned at the beginning, until now we have opened a hundred of shops, workshops and other workplaces in Iraq. They include: 9 hairdresser’s salons, 10 clothing stores, 8 tailor’s shops, 3 mechanic’s shops, 2 bakeries, and many craft shops such as carpenter’s and locksmith’s shops.
The cost of opening such a business depends on an industry. Opening a small grocery or clothing store costs around 1500 US dollars. A workshop with specialized tools would require an investment of 2500-3000 US dollars (similar in EUR). But it is still not a large amount of money when we take into account that it may help an entire family to earn a living and become independent from external help.
Some of those hundred workplaces we created from scratch. Some others had existed before, but required a renovation or purchasing of materials and tools so that they could become more efficient. The vast majority of them still exist. In several cases, they’ve turned into quite profitable businesses and some also started employing other people. Several business needed to be shut down, but that was mainly due to some unpredictable circumstances. A medical doctor whom we helped to open a small practice in Bartella died in a car crash. A single mother of five daughters, whose husband was murdered by ISIS, received help from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad and moved to France. Before that, for several months she was running a small shop in a camp for internally displaced persons that was opened as part of the GREAT JOB project. Therefore, the shutting down of this business can’t be seen as a failure, since at the time the family was earning a living.
This year we are planning to open at least 25 workplaces. In coordination with Caritas Poland, since March we have been running Family-to-Family project that allows us to provide financial support to one hundred families. Out of 25 planned small businesses we have already launched five, while another five are currently being opened.
Author: Dawid Czyż