Developing Local Leaders to Support Children and Families in Iraq

In April, CV’s Chief Program Officer David Collins spent a week in Iraq with the Iraqi Children Foundation.

Our partnership with the Iraqi Children Foundation began in 2009, when we provided training to NGOs responding to the needs of orphans, widows, and victims of conflict. Since then, the partnership has grown to support exemplary Iraqi NGOs helping kids and families in Baghdad, Mosul, and across Iraq.

On this visit, David visited the wonderful team at Justice Gate Organization, who run “Hope Buses” which provide on-street legal services, and an anti-trafficking program in Baghdad. The Hope Buses are always a highlight! Circumstances in Iraq can be very difficult for children, but the Hope Buses provide safe spaces along with education, meals, PPE, and hygiene supplies. Social workers meet with families at their homes nearby. The Hope Buses also work to transition kids into local schools, and has recently added after school programs that include transportation. Just last week, they opened the 3rd Hope Bus!

David also visited our colleagues at the Iraq Health Access Organization, a critical provider of healthcare and social services throughout Iraq. “It was surreal to drive from Erbil and see the devastation and the efforts to rebuild, and then walk in and see The Children’s Village logo on a door of a busy clinic!” said David. Their programs include primary care, reproductive health, gender-based violence, disability services, and more. Today, CV partners with two clinics in Mosul, which provide disability care as part of a larger integrated health center. Doctors told us they see a mix of disabilities here: war injuries, physical, developmental, intellectual, and more.

In addition to physical care, IHAO provides psychosocial support groups for patients and families, and even has a focus on arts  and crafts as a form of therapy. One mother displayed some lovely drawings made by her daughter, who is deaf and in need of a hearing aid. Another was selling crafts to help support her family – a common occurrence everywhere the team visited.

While there is so much devastation throughout Iraq due to occupation and conflict, the work being done provides hope and inspiration. At IHAO, for example, the staff reflects the diversity of Mosul and the region – Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Arab, and Kurd – all of whom survived the ISIS occupation and committed to sticking around and rebuilding. This is a beautiful thing to see.

As CV continues to grow its partnerships in Iraq, we look forward to many more visits and making many more friends in this incredible country. All children, everywhere, deserve every opportunity for a safe and prosperous future.

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