Yesterday was so hard.
We were supposed to celebrate the opening of two new WorkWell locations in Iraq this Sunday.
If you don’t know about WorkWell, let me tell you: this place is amazing. This is where young refugees who’ve been written off by everyone else get a new identity.
This is where they become coders, designers, entrepreneurs. But unlike so many “livelihood” programs here in Iraq, we don’t just give them a training certificate and move on.
WorkWell is where they get to put their newfound skills to use now, starting their own freelance businesses and gaining access to the global digital marketplace.
This is where we walk alongside our refugee friends, every step of the way toward wholeness.
You helped open our first WorkWell site in Iraq last year. You made it a warm, inviting space where students can forget that they are refugees, where they can rediscover that they are SO much more.
Nearly 100% of the students who’ve come through our first WorkWell location now have access to online work every day. Some of them are earning 2-3 times the local wage.
This is the future, friends. This is how we help refugees reclaim their lives. And we were so excited to bring this future to even more refugees in two more cities in Iraq.
Three days before we were set to open, we heard from the building owners who were leasing both the space and equipment—computers, tables, chairs. They decided at the last minute to double the rent we had agreed to.
They found out we were working with refugees, and they saw their chance to take advantage of them.
You see, Iraq is not America. Renters don’t have the same protections from unscrupulous landlords here.
And if you’re a refugee from another country like Syria, you’re even more vulnerable. You’re used to being taken advantage of, by those who think they can get away with it.
The building owners are betting we have no choice but to meet their demands. But they’re wrong. We do have a choice, because we have you.
Make no mistake: they threw our plans into disarray. We were set to welcome hundreds of refugee students in just a couple of days.
Now, not only do we not have a space to host them; we don’t have the equipment they need to learn coding and design skills, much less put them to use.
We are already working to find new locations so we don’t have to say no to these refugee students and their future.
But we also need to raise $120,000 by Sunday to furnish both sites with everything these students need to succeed.
Your gift will help provide 200 laptops ($500 per laptop) and 200 desks and chairs ($100 per set). More importantly, your gift will allow us to outfit these spaces ourselves, instead of being at the mercy of those who would exploit our refugee friends.