Across Iraq, families have fled violence or find themselves living in cities recently liberated from ISIS control. Men need to find new jobs because their old way of life is gone. Many women are having to shoulder the responsibility of providing for their families alone because their husbands and sons did not survive. As they look at their options, you have come alongside to give encouragement—and fire-up their imaginations.
In refugee camps, in makeshift communities, and even at our health clinics, we work with our local friends and partners to identify people who have ideas for work. Friendships form as we drink tea with them, meet their kids, and listen to their stories. We inventory their skills and learn about their business plans, but the conversation is not just about earning an income. It’s about helping them renew their dignity and confidence in themselves. It is about communicating that they have worth simply because of who they are—not because of what they do or what was stolen from them.
Sitting with these families is more than just getting down to business. We are committed to living life together. We celebrate births and weddings. We cry over losses. We eat, laugh, and dance together. We become friends and family in the months and years that follow, because we are all in this together.
Over the last two months, your generosity helped 54 families in ten cities across Iraq to experience this kind of support and encouragement. These men and women started a variety of essential businesses—grocery stores, tailor shops, restaurants, skilled trades, stationery stores, salons, and more.
Here are some of their stories…
Eight men finished a ten-week training course in aluminum carpentry this spring. They learned how to craft doors, windows, and cabinets from aluminum. Each participant worked on a series of projects with a partner, as well as one individual project.
These men came from different backgrounds. Some were Iraqi, some Syrian. Some spoke Kurdish, some spoke Arabic. Under other circumstances, they might not have trusted each other or had anything to do with each other. But this course brought them together to rebuild—and they worked together beautifully.
The class ended with a group project designing, fabricating, and installing a “child-friendly space” in a government building. These men can now improve their own homes—but more importantly, they can launch businesses and build for others. They can do so now, even while they’re still displaced. And they’ll be able to use their skills to rebuild when they return home.
Your support gives them a bright future.
Chickens and sheep are more than just a source of food. The eggs and dairy products they provide can be sold, and the animals themselves bring companionship and joy to families who have lost so much. Plus, for those who tended livestock before they were displaced, these animals are a wonderful reminder of life as it used to be—and what it can be again.
Your generosity helped a woman named Zahraa buy a small flock of sheep after her husband died from cancer. She sells homemade yogurt made from the milk to provide for her five children and for her extended family who moved in with her when they fled west Mosul.
Zahraa has many burdens to carry but is grateful to be able to buy necessities for her family because of her business.
The battle for Mosul raged for eight months, destroying much of the city. Local business owners need to rebuild and repair their shops before they can open. Your generosity helped a man named Thamer repair walls and repaint his bakery. He specializes in selling the round, flat bread that is a staple of Iraqi cuisine.
Thamer’s business not only sells bread to families but can also supply restaurants and sandwich shops in the area. Each new business in this war-torn city is part of a network of supply and demand that contributes to rebuilding the whole economy.
To see a thriving shop where there was once an empty shell of a building brings hope to everyone who passes by. It’s a reminder that things can get better. That Mosul can come back from this.
Thank you for walking beside each of these people as they rebuild their lives from the rubble of war.