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Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq

by IsraAID
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq
Emergency Aid for Displaced People in Kurdish Iraq

Amid rampant violence and genocide in northern Iraq following the rise of ISIS in 2013, many have been displaced from their homes and communities. Internally Displaces Person's Camps have been established in the Kurdish region of Iraq to support these communities-- among them, the Yazidi religious minority, who suffered atrocities at the hands of ISIS.

IsraAID has been working in the area since 2014, providing emergency relief, as well as educational and psychosocial support for these vulnerable communities, still unable to return home. As part of this work, IsraAID has implemented STEM modules within elementary schools, creating opportunities for young volunteers to gain teacher's training, and improving the rigor of local school curricula to include science and bolster curiosity among students.

Many of the young adults from the community came together to volunteer their time as STEM teachers in this program, citing personal motivations to serve their community through this work. These volunteers were excited by the hands-on nature of the educational program, which utilizes experiments and kinesthetic learning to develop skills among children, aged 8-13. Opportunities of this caliber are rare in these settings, where scarce resource limits community access to high-quality education. 

Furthermore, the training workshops for the volunteer teachers served as a community building activity, in which young volunteers were able to come together to further their career, many for the first time since they were forced to flee their homes. Groups of 15 volunteers were trained, reaching more than 2000 students throughout the camp.

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IsraAID’s field team located in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq provided a two-week intervention and capacity building program for women working with children. 15 participants, aged 20-50 years old joined together for a 11-day training on trauma, coping mechanisms, and self-care. All participants were of Kurdish background, 11 of whom were Muslim and 4 of whom were Christians. 6 of these women are registered psychologists or social workers; the rest of the women are psychology students or community volunteers interested in supporting the emotional wellbeing of children who have been exposed to trauma or are in distress.

Participants shared their thoughts on the experience:

“After this training, I started to feel myself, my body, I know my rights, my thoughts and my spirit. I care for ‘me’ now so that I can take care of my children. This course took me to another level. It helped me develop as a counsellor at work and also improved my family life. I developed myself, trust in others and confidence in working with cases of trauma. I was able to connect to others and find solutions together, I want to find solutions to our problems. I have built the courage through this training to face difficulties and developed new ways to cope. I am tired of this life and I want things to change.”

Another participant explained:

“I had forgotten there was a child inside me. I only knew how to be an adult. The course has taught me how to bring my inner child out. I thought all the color and painting was only for children. I now know it is for me as well. I’ve begun playing with children and journaling about my personal life. I even get up early and do yoga now. I used to get up late and dread going to work. I now get up early, and look forward to work and life. This is the first time I was able to share my thoughts and feelings about my grief. Not only with words, but with arts. This training allowed me to be vulnerable with others and connect to the other women in the group. After today, I do not want to see the children suffer, and it is my duty to help the children and also the parents to care for their children in need. Now I am better at controlling my anger and can play with my daughter nicely now. This is the first time I sat down on the floor, painted, became a child because my childhood ended when I was 11 years old. I had to take extra responsibilities. When I joined this course, I did not know what to expect. As a social worker, I have witnessed so much horror and heard unspeakable stories from the Yazidi survivors. We had cases at the camps of children who have been traumatized, tortured and enslaved. The team was not able to work with children and we face a lot of difficulties trying to figure out a way to help them. I thought all the color and painting was only for children. I now know it is for me as well.”

This training was part of our ongoing program in Northern Iraq over the past 4 years, seeking to strengthen the community’s resilience through an educational and psychosocial approach. The team not only supports the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living inside camps with STEM education and relief item distributions, they also support the host community by bolstering the emotional health of those offering assistance to IDPs. The team’s larger response to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, which has caused thousands of people to become internally displaced and are now living in temporary refugee camps. Among the most vulnerable populations are Yazidi women, thousands of whom were victim to sexual and gender-based violence. 

At the closing session of the seminar, the women wrote a poem together about creating a new professional Kurdish identity:

“We complete each other

We accept each other

We respect each other’s stories

Multiplicity of minds

We all have a place

Respect

Love

Caring

We can do everything together

Power

We all passed through life and discovered that our stories are similar

We all have one purpose, we need to help others

Even though we are all different religions and traditions we all came on the same path

With empathy we understood each other.

We learnt so much about each other that we are so close”

 

Thank you for your generous support!

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IsraAID’s program in the Kurdish Region of Iraq was launched in 2014 to support those affected by ISIS atrocities. ISIS systematically attacked and displaced Yazidis, Christians and other ethnic minorities throughout Northern Iraq. At the start of 2017, there were 4.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 1.9 million returnees. By December 2017, the number of reported IDPs decreased to 2.6 million and returnees increased to 3.2 million.

IsraAID’s team has focused on three programs with IDPs in the Kurdish Region of Iraq: Emergency Response, Protection, and STEM Education. 

Emergency Response:

Last year, IsraAID distributed food and urgent non-food items to more than 225 households, reaching more than 1000 people, in an IDP camp hosting Yazidi, Christian and Muslim communities.

Protection:

IsraAID’s professional team has provided direct psychosocial support to a group of young Yazidi girl survivors. The program enables the female participants to process their emotions and start to take control back of their lives. Daily sessions focus on understanding the effects of trauma and gaining new coping and listening skills, to help themselves and support their peers. Through guided meditation, journaling, art and pictures, the girls start to address their trauma and build resilience. The program also focuses on fostering group dynamics to help the girls build a peer support network and lasting friendships.

Our mental health experts also trained a group of local social workers of mixed religious and ethnic background, who work with more than 900 IDP camp residents. IsraAID offered case management consultations and training on psychosocial support.

STEM Education:

IsraAID’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program delivers cutting-edge, practical and theoretical education for students and teachers in schools. Thanks to this program, more than 9,000 people – including students, teachers, parents, and community members – have been impacted by the mind- and world-expanding possibilities of science and technology. By opening participants’ minds to new ways of thinking and learning, the STEM education program teaches new skills and broadens long-term aspirations and possibilities.

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IDP camp in KRI
IDP camp in KRI

IsraAID has been operating in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) since 2014 providing emergency relief, educational and psychological support to internally displaced persons (IDPs) forced to flee their homes when ISIS overran their communities.

Due to long periods of displacement, the children we work with in KRI have spent a lot of time out of safe, structured learning environments. In order to respond to this situation, IsraAID has focused on providing STEM educational programming, together with partners STEM Synergy, the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust and local organizations. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a ground-breaking program connecting theoretical and practical studies. Students improve their grades, expand their thinking and creativity, and ultimately gain better access to livelihood opportunities in the future.

In 2017, the STEM program was administered in 8 different schools to nearly 2,000 students by 120 volunteer educators, trained by our team. For women and girls in particular, the impact of STEM education is transformative. 75%of educators and 60%of students participating in IsraAID’s STEM program in Iraq are women and girls.

The first volunteer teacher on IsraAID’s STEM education program, a young woman, had this to say:

My life and the life of many people in Iraq has been turned around. Before the displacement, I ate three meals a day, slept in my room, on my own bed and I had my privacy. But when we were forced to flee, we found ourselves with 20 people or more sleeping in the same room. There was not enough food for everyone, and we had no clothes except those on our backs. Yet we were in need of education as much as much as we were in need of food.

Education programs like these are vital, especially for women in Iraq. It is hugely important, first for us, and for our children and the wider community. Iraq is a big country, and it will not be developed without women participating in the process. We live in a closed environment, where women are losing the chance to be more conscious of the world around us, but the IsraAID STEM program has enabled us to deepen our understanding and see things we could never have imagined before. The education we have earned will help us make change for the next generation of Iraqis, while the current generation needs us as teachers, sisters and mothers.”

More updates to follow! Thank you for your support!

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IDP camp.
IDP camp.

"My life before displacement was fun. We lived in our own house and were very happy, I went to the local, neighborhood school and would meet my friends there. After the displacement, I was sent to an IDP camp. I began going to the STEM classes - they taught me how to make interesting things and helped me understand about electricity.

I think STEM will benefit me a lot in the future. For example, if I specialize in electrical engineering, I will remember the days that we came to STEM class and learnt from the experiments. I will work and create things using the electricity. I will never forget the days of effort. Thank you for that!" Young, student participant of the STEM program.

IsraAID has been operating in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) since 2014 providing emergency relief, educational and psychosocial support to the IDPs forced to flee their homes when ISIS overran their communities.

Together with our partners STEM Synergy, The Gelfand Family Charitable Trust and other local organizations, IsraAID has focused on providing STEM educational programming in KRI, largely due to the extended periods of displacement and the amount of time children are out of safe and supportive learning environments.

The educational initiative STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) is a ground-breaking program which connects theoretical studies and their practical application. The aim is to improve students' grades, increase their thinking processes, resourcefulness and creativity, ultimately leading to better access to livelihood opportunities in the future. It involves the introduction of additional workshops into the students’ formal or informal school system, with an emphasis on practical experiments. The team trains local teachers to administer the project

In 2017, the STEM program was administered in 8 different schools to nearly 2,000 students and 120 volunteer educators, trained by our team, taught the classes. The program established a vital network of people that understand STEM, and have a desire to learn and to teach other people, and all the students were very engaged and curious when conducting STEM experiments.

In 2018, IsraAID and its partners aim to expand the program into more IDP camps. More updates to follow!

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Organization Information

IsraAID

Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Website:
Project Leader:
Navonel (Voni) Glick
Deputy Director / COO
Be'er Sheva, Be'er Sheva Israel

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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