Here’s How You Opened a Shop That Saved a Community.

When you step into Abdul Razzaq’s shop, it’s hard not to smile. It’s compact and bright, with large windows and white paint, creating a perfect backdrop for tidy rows of brightly packaged products for sale.

When he sits down to have his photo taken, Abdul Razzaq is perfectly framed by all the snacks you could ever hope to find in a corner store, including cookies, chocolate, chips, and soft drinks.

Abdul Razaq in his new corner store. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/Preemptive Love Coalition.

And then there is Abdul Razzaq himself. His smile is a little shy, but entirely welcoming.

Just down the road from the shop is a youth center, where the village’s children—forever on the lookout for snacks, just like your kids—gather to hang out.

Abdul Razzaq’s corner store is the only one like it in the village.

You helped Abdul Razzaq open this shop, just two days before we visited. You became part of his community when you partnered with him. He and his family took care of renovating the shop, including the addition, new roofing, and a new cement floor. You provided drink coolers and the first stock to fill the shelves.

You joined with Abdul Razzaq to accomplish something he couldn’t do on his own. And why not? That’s what community is for.

Abdul Razzaq and his village know a lot about community.

Abdul Razaq welcomes us to his new corner store. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/Preemptive Love Coalition.

Abdul Razzaq is deaf, and he has been since birth. So is his wife. Iraqi villages aren’t the easiest places to make a life if you are deaf.

He, his wife, and his mother have studied sign language at an institute in the nearest city. They can communicate fluently with each other. That isn’t true of the wider world, though.

On his own, Abdul Razzaq can’t hear the call to prayer that sounds through the village five times a day. He can’t hear an alarm clock or cars approaching behind him on the village’s narrow dirt roads. He can’t hear his girls laugh when they tell each other jokes. (His two daughters have no trouble hearing.)

He used to work at day labor jobs—work that requires a strong back, but not necessarily hearing. It allowed him to support his family. Then his eyesight grew so poor that his doctor worried for his safety.

He had to stop doing the only work available to him in their village, which meant he lost the ability to provide for his family.

We all need community to thrive. Abdul Razzaq’s village community has always been supportive of him. They created their own ways to communicate, to make sure he felt included. They helped him navigate village life.

More than that, they gave him the idea for his shop.

“Open a shop,” they told him, “and we will be your customers!”

Now he has—and now they have! When you invested in Abdul Razzaq and his bright corner store, you also invested in an entire, beautiful community. You joined a circle of love that surrounds his family, and in turn blesses his whole village.

Abdul Razaq’s shop is the only one of its kind in his village. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem/Preemptive Love Coalition.

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