Your Support Puts Families First in Northern Iraq

As Shkeb walks through the camp, he is filled with pride and thanks because he knows how far this community has come over the last nine years. Until recently, Shkeb had to travel far outside the camp to purchase basic necessities for his family, which ate up more time and money than he could afford. Others in the camp, such as family providers who were injured by ISIS or older adults who lost their homes when they fled the attack on Sinjar, shared Shkeb’s struggle. You recognized the hardships of this community and showed up. By investing in displaced people, you provided them with the means to bring normalcy, stability, and convenience back into their lives.

We met Shkeb while visiting the entrepreneurs participating in our jobs empowerment program in a camp for displaced people in northern Iraq. As a member of camp management, Shkeb has seen first-hand how your support has transformed the lives of displaced people. Providing business owners with small grants to get their businesses started and a year of personalized coaching to ensure the businesses thrive means people living in the camps do not have to travel hours to buy food, clothing, or school supplies. They don’t have to spend their money on costly gasoline or taxis to shop. Thanks to your investment, they now have a shopping district in their camp, where prices are often cheaper. People can walk the camp streets as they used to walk their old neighborhoods, shopping, saying hello to storekeepers and neighbors, or stopping for a quick tea–all the routine activities of a normal life. 

Shkeb stands on a main road in the camp. Photo by Hawar A Akravi.

Over the past few years, your ability to love anyway has empowered members of this community to do the same. As businesses have been built up, so have bridges between people of various backgrounds and religions. Meaningful friendships have grown and blossomed into a cohesive, tightly-knit community with a genuine foundation of trust. This trust has allowed families to make agreements with business owners to buy much-needed resources with the promise of paying them back, a common way for individuals to provide for their families despite not having a regular income. 

Despite the overwhelming crises breaking out throughout the world, your dedication to this community and cultivating peace and prosperity has not wavered. Because of your contribution, Shkeb can surprise his children by going out at night to buy sandwiches from a local restaurant. Impromptu treats like this were not possible before the start of our program. Now, Shkeb and other parents can make their children’s world just that little bit brighter with these tiny joys which make a big difference.

Thank you for putting people first by investing in their dreams. Since we began our jobs empowerment program four years ago, you have supported 1,104 dreams. The entrepreneurs your support empowers have created further job opportunities by hiring others in the camp. The diverse range of businesses includes bicycle and car repairs, restaurants, home goods stores, seamstresses, and convenience stores. Each has provided a lifeline to entrepreneurs and their families, but each has also fostered solidarity throughout the community. 

This Giving Tuesday, Put People First