You Gave $500,000 in 3 Days! — An FAQ Interview with Jeremy Courtney

Q: How much of my donation goes to help women and children in Iraq? Specifically, what is the work you are doing to help them?

A: 100% of your donations will directly benefit our work in Iraq. Some of that will include renovating school buildings, providing housing and sanitation, and hiring laborers to do the work, among other things.

As it relates to helping ISIS survivors start their new businesses, the money will go toward buying supplies for new corner stores, market or fruit stands, sewing machines, motor scooters for delivery services, bulk wheat flour for bakeries, and inventory for accessory shops, just to name a few.

And new crises are still happening or on the horizon—so we are preparing for what’s to come, as well.

And good program execution requires good management, good data and financial tracking, good reporting and good communication with those we are serving and those who are helping make it happen—you! We’ll make sure we are investing in those things as well so that we are not just sending money out the door without ensuring that we have the capacity to be accountable for it.


Q: Where can I go to receive updates on how Preemptive Love is using the money it receives?

A: There are new tragedies occurring every moment, and we’re doing our best to keep up. Our strategies often change day by day, and we cannot anticipate every FAQ because the scene on the ground is just too complex.

That said, our blog is the best place to keep track of how you are helping us on a daily basis:

Q: What are you going to do with all the money that has been given in response to Ann Voskamp’s blog post? This is a lot more than your original goal… are you going to be able to handle all this money well? Are you scrambling? 

A: Since the fall of Ramadi, as your gifts started pouring in, we have:

—established framework for an olive oil soap-making business for Sozan, Leyla, Marwa and friends. BUDGET: ≦$8,000

—started planning summer education initiative for the kids from the shipping containers community with whom Ann played. BUDGET: Unknown

—authorized an emergency response for those fleeing Ramadi who are deep inside Anbar. There are 15 miles of people living in makeshift tents, cars, and dwellings… most of the aid stops at the first mile on the Baghdad side. We are negotiating with Iraqi Security Forces and militia leaders to get deeper into the territory and help those who are more in danger and less-reached. BUDGET: $10,000

—authorized empowerment business grants for women returning post-ISIS to Diyala at the request of the Speaker of Parliament in light of your funding. BUDGET: $10,000

—authorized the dispatch of lifesaving medicine to Diyala at the request of the Speaker of Parliament in light of your funding. BUDGET: $10,000

—worked with the Patriarch of the Chaldean church in Baghdad and personally authorized immediate construction on a school expansion to educate hundreds of children in Kirkuk, where many from Ramadi and Christians & Yezidis from Mosul have landed. BUDGET: $23,000

—began working in Baghdad to get 10,000+ kids back to school. BUDGET: $100,000-150,000

—worked with militia leaders and committed supplies for the disabled and medicine for the sick and poor. BUDGET: Pending

met with Sunni/Shia leadership to strategize next steps in light of your funding.

hired an experienced tri-lingual Iraqi program manager to increase our ability to monitor and evaluate our impact and to give better leadership to our micro-finance programming and emergency aid responses around the country. BUDGET: $38,400


Q: Are there any charity watchdog organizations inspecting PLC’s work? 

A: PLC is a Gold-level GuideStar Exchange participant, committed to transparency. Every year, PLC maintains one of the highest possible Gold star ratings on Guidestar. You can find more here.

We also publish our own financial data and Failure Reports for your independent inspection here. Audited financials from 2014 and our 2014 annual report will be published within a few months.

Q: How did you start? How did you get to where you are now as an organization?

A: Great question! First, let me give you a quick overview of our history. We moved to Iraq nearly a decade ago and quickly found thousands of kids suffering from horrendous birth defects. We chose to focus on children with heart defects since many of those could be healed. We found courageous doctors and nurses from around the world who were willing to brave the bombs and bullets to work with us in places like Fallujah, Tikrit, Baghdad, and beyond. This earned us a unique reputation of going where no one else would go, to love those whom no one else would love.

When the ISIS crisis became an international headline last summer, most oil companies and aid organizations initially pulled out. We stayed. We dug in. We pivoted to providing immediate aid because, in many communities, no one else was coordinating aid. The international community was gone and the low oil prices made it difficult for compassionate Iraqis to respond as their economy took such a severe hit.

When Baghdad was surrounded and people were talking about the “end of Iraq” we were in Baghdad helping friends like Jamal rescue women from ISIS.

Through the winter we provided clothes, carpets, kerosene, shelter, and other things to those in need.

As the winter thaw began, we knew that the ISIS and other, related violence was going to last awhile. If anything, the spring and summer offensives against ISIS were going to bring MORE displacement (as we’re seeing now with Ramadi). We didn’t want our Iraqi friends to be caught in the constant cycle of dependency like (unfortunately) most well-meaning aid groups end up creating.

Now we’ve moved into the areas of need that have presented themselves: education and providing women with the access to funds to start small businesses.

Q: Do you have experience in micro-finance or in education? I thought you focused on heart surgeries.

A: Economic development is in our DNA.

Our heart surgery work has actually always been a finance project, working directly with the Iraqi governing to provide the upfront financing they need to ultimately use their own oil money to build their own country’s pediatric heart surgery field.

We wanted to help women start businesses so they could provide for themselves. Our Iraqi implementing partners on the ground are trained and previously employed by some of the best. Like any business, we’ll have failure. We intend to learn from it, make adjustments, and try again.

In reality, we are not primarily a heart surgery organization. Not primarily an aid organization. Not primarily a micro-finance organization. We are primarily a peacemaking movement, practicing presence with friends and enemies alike in the most polarizing conflicts.

Q: How will the donations protect people from ISIS?

A: The trajectory can be long on this, but we believe we are protecting them from ISIS in this sense: if we don’t show up where they are—if the only way for them to make it through this crisis is to be among the 9% who have the luxury of living in a tent with UN provisions every day—the likelihood that they ultimately succumb to ISIS in one form or another increases dramatically. We’re trying to help them make it through the day where they are now, something that will protect them from ISIS in the long run.

We’ve already seen these small businesses transform lives. Just weeks ago we were handing out $30 food packets to women like Abeer. Today, Abeer uses profits from her business to provide food (we haven’t given her any “aid” since we helped her start the business), but she is actually EXPANDING her business right now as summer approaches. She’s buying a freezer with her own profits so that she can sell ice-cream to the kids on the street!

I guess it may not sound like much when stacked up against the media in the US, but for Abeer, it is almost everything. Her kids are being fed and have returned to school. She can pay her rent. All of this because of a small business grant and some behind the scenes work with the inventory guys at a local grocery store who gave her inventory to sell in advance of payment. Without this, ISIS would have effectively killed her from a distance as she withered away and her kids were forced to choose between a host of bad options just to stay alive.

These are the kinds of women you are helping with your donation.

Q: Aren’t the refugees in Iraq already being helped by the UN and other organizations? What are you doing that’s different?

A: Only 9% of the people who have been displaced from their homes by ISIS live in “tent cities” or “camps” according to the UN (which runs the tent cities and camps). That means 91% (2.5 million) of these refugees currently live in areas that are diffuse and hard to access: places like abandoned buildings or even rent houses where rents are high and include steep penalties for non-payment.

We don’t work inside the razor wire or fences. We don’t have security guards. We go to the neighborhoods where they actually live in an effort to free them from aid, free them from dependency on the UN or other international aid groups. Our goal is to take care of their short-term needs (like food and water) while providing them with long-term options towards self-sufficiency.

Can we donate if we don’t live in the United States?

Yes, you certainly can. We have many peacemakers who have joined the march from across Canada, the UK, and across Europe!

There is a drop down menu on the donation form that allows you to select your country and changes the input fields accordingly.

Please contact us if you experience any difficulties giving.


Q: It looks like Preemptive Love does a lot of different things (heart surgeries, schooling for children, businesses for women). Can I designate how my donation will be used?

A: We are happy to manually designate your donation however you would like to see it impact women and children in Iraq! You can let us know after the fact at

Q: I’ve given money and I’m dedicated to praying for Preemptive Love, but I want to do more. What else is there?

A: Thank you SO MUCH for giving, for praying, and for your earnest desire to do more! Here are a few thoughts from our experience on the ground in Iraq:

Short term: Give and pray. You’ve done that (and if you haven’t done that, you can do so by clicking here)!

Long term: Make a Muslim friend wherever you are or, if that’s not possible, online. There are at least English-speaking, female Muslim communities online—your fellow citizens—who would LOVE to welcome you, know you, and befriend you!

If every family, every church, every synagogue, every mosque, and every school represented by those of us in this Preemptive Love movement was lovingly and deeply entangled and intertwined with each other, this situation would be different today. We’re talking about millions of people within arm’s reach!

So if we want a different outcome in Iraq, Libya, Iran, Pakistan, the United States, and Canada 30-50 years from now—and we DO!—we’re going to need to know our neighbors better today, regardless of their beliefs. That may not seem like it helps Iraq, Syria, and Libya today. It may not seem like it destroys ISIS today. But it is a vaccine against ISIS in the future.

Still have questions? We’d love to talk!


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