We knew it the minute we rolled up in west Mosul: this was bad news.

Some food deliveries are orderly and organized. On others, you can feel the desperation, the barely controlled chaos. We sometimes refer to these as “the desperate situation.” 

The battle in west Mosul is still raging, even though the media doesn’t talk about it much, and things really are desperate.

I threw the car into park and within a few seconds, a dozen people had gathered near us.

Two dozen.

Three.

Five dozen.

Six doz—ya, I lost count. This crowd was swelling. We’re all gathered in the middle of a huge, open intersection, a few streets from the battle, and these people are clearly hungry.

Jeremy held the car door open with one hand and the other over his eyes as he scanned the neighborhood: “Yeah, this is definitely the desperate situation.”

The delivery began. Lines formed and families began lumbering away with heavy bags of food, but the stress and noise and tension never seemed to let up. I ducked up the road to chat with a soldier watching our perimeter.

As I’m walking back, I hear a voice say, “Hello, mister!”

He held out a heavy, dry hand and smiled right at me. His name was Khalid.

“Can I help you? I am speaking little English, if you need anything!”

We chatted a bit, and he told me the story of his neighborhood.

“The people here suffered so much, really. Very little of us joined Daesh [ISIS]. They came from outside.”

There’s a lot to like about Khalid. The scar on his cheek and pens in his pocket stood out, but it was the smile lines around his eyes that drew me to him. This is a guy who has learned how to smile through terrible situations.

Khalid didn’t want to be photographed, but he was happy to share his story with us.

The best thing about Khalid, though, was his vision for his community.

When I asked what the people here need most, he didn’t respond the way most do. He didn’t say, “We need food.” He didn’t ask for water or medical care. He knows his community needs that, but he could see further down the road.

“People need work.”

Forget fish, let’s get back to fishing. It’s a bold move, telling the foreigner who brought you a truckload of fish. He knew the handout was essential and very well might save lives—not to mention keep hundreds of families from having to leave home and register in faraway refugee camps—but he also knew it’s not the ultimate solution.

We couldn’t agree more, and we know you agree, too. You’ve already helped so many people get back to work across Iraq and Syria, and you’re at it again in Mosul.

Across the river in east Mosul, fully liberated from ISIS, you’ve helped create dozens of jobs already—and that’s only the beginning. We’re making plans to help communities like Khalid’s rebuild and get back to work. They have the skills, the drive, the integrity and intelligence, and they’re ready.

They don’t need us to “save” them ’or fix things for them. They just need a partner, an advocate, someone to come alongside them.

The people here—they have the solution to the problems they face. Help support more families as they rebuild, and stay tuned for more stories of your love in Mosul!


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