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Fallujah Transparency Report: Update #1

 

Note: This is the latest update to a report we shared on July 6.

On May 26, we sounded the alarm on Fallujah, as Iraqi forces fought to liberate the city from ISIS. The battle displaced 86,000 civilians, many of whom risked their lives to get out before ISIS was driven back. Families fled to the desert, taking refuge in camps that were dangerously ill-equipped. Even many veterans of the Syrian and Iraqi refugee crises describe conditions outside Fallujah as the worst they’ve seen.

But you are changing that with your world-remaking love.

 

We're Headed Back to Libya!

We’re headed back to Libya* next week! We’re keeping our promise to help more young Libyans get the lifesaving heart surgeries they need, and provide more hours of training for dedicated Libyan doctors and nurses.

Before we go, we want to give you an update on life in Libya—it certainly isn’t any easier for Libyans since we were last there in April.

Zawita pt. 5—Meet The Boy Who Defended His Grandmother From ISIS

Nobody talked to his grandmother like this.

Samir was only 10 years old when the black-clad men arrived with their guns and their insults. He’d heard of this group, known locally as “Da’esh” (ISIS). He’d seen their black flags and heard rumors of what they were doing to his people—and now they were here in his hometown.

When the ISIS fighters jeered at his grandmother, Samir stood up for her. He put himself between her and the militants, shouting back at them defiantly.

In response, they lurched forward, grabbing Samir and pinning him to the ground while another went for a can of gasoline.

Peacemaker Fridays: July 22, 2016

One man's DNA shows our worldwide connections; Meet a Muslim sparks conversation and offers perspective; and local Mosque congregants wage peace by feasting with an outspoken opponent.

Here are the week's best stories of people reaching across enemy lines, loving the other, and waging peace...

Zawita pt. 4—Hauling Water In The Mountains

Her steps crunch on the gravel path as she walks from her tent, down through the camp to the main gate. She carries an empty water bottle—it makes a soft, hollow thud against her leg as she walks.

At the camp gates, she goes to the big, galvanized water tank, and carefully pours a gallon of clean water into her bottle, then makes the return trip home. The thin, blue plastic handle cuts into her hand from the weight of the water, so she walks more slowly now, shifting the bottle from her right hand to her left, and back again.

Zawita pt. 3—Party Around the Chicken Truck!

It can be difficult to visit people in need and then leave without doing much, but that’s what happened when we first encountered the families in Zawita camp.

You've helped provide for their immediate needs, but the goal is always empowering families to take care of themselves. So how can we do that? It's a process, it doesn't happen overnight! We discovered they know best what they need, and they got really excited when we settled on a first step: egg-laying chickens.

Zawita pt.2—How We Failed These Families (At First)

We came with our ideas.

We’d seen them work in other places, and we were sure they’d work in Zawita, this camp we’ve come to love.

We told the people how you empowered soap makers, tailors, shop owners, and more. We told them what we thought would work.

All we needed to do was convince the families of this, and quickly.

Zawita pt. 1—A Refugee Camp That Gives Us Hope!

Confession: I don’t look forward to visiting refugee camps.

To be clear, I love spending time with refugees and displaced people. We consider it an honor to sit alongside families, to learn about them, to ask questions and, if we can, to partner with them as they rebuild their lives.

But the places, the actual barbed-wire-fenced-in-official camps. Over time, these spaces of safety and freedom become...not those things. Unsafe, unfree, and dismal—you don’t have to be an especially empathic person to feel it when you walk in.

Mourning In Baghdad—Let Our Love Be Loud

Does anyone get used to this?

Nobody sees being shot or bombed as normal—not in Iraq, not anywhere. Nobody gets used to raising black funeral banners, to being hated, to having their friends and family blown up, shot, targeted because of the melanin in their skin, because they're law enforcement, because of their religion or ethnicity.

Nobody gets used to it, and that's exactly why we must not, either.

Peacemaker Fridays: July 15, 2016

In the wake of last week's violence—the shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five Dallas police officers—it can be hard to hear the voices of those who choose to love anyway. But they are there, stepping bravely into the anger, fear, and injustice. 

In memory of those who lost their lives last week, we wanted to introduce you to a few of these brave peacemakers who acted in small but tremendously impactful ways...  

Stories From Fallujah: A Mother's Lament

When you think about life under ISIS rule, how do you think families keep hope alive? With all the bombings, oppressive ideology, and the knowledge that your home is doomed to become a war zone, it’s hard to imagine what could possibly keep people going. How do they press on?

Look into the eyes of these mothers who just escaped ISIS rule and you can see it:

The love they have for their children motivates above all. It is a fierce, protective love.

Love Letters to Baghdad

To our many friends in Baghdad, still reeling from last week’s attack—the worst bombing in more than a decade…

To those who sifted through burned out wreckage of cars and buildings, looking for their loved ones, nearly 300 of whom perished that night…

To our colleagues who lost brothers and friends in the attack…

To all who have grown weary of violence, whose hearts ache for peace, who wondered where the rest of the world was while Baghdad mourned…

We are with you. We have not forgotten you.

Stories From Fallujah: A Grandmother's Escape

"We struggled under a shower of bullets, bombs, rockets, machine guns. ISIS shot at us from a car."

Can you imagine your grandmother saying that? Can you imagine your grandmother showing you the burned holes in her clothing where shrapnel from a rocket hit her home? Or the scars on the child she cradles?

Stories From Fallujah: The Children Who Escaped War

"What’s your name?"

"I don’t know."

"Where is your father?"

"My father died."

"Where?"

"He died..."

These are testimonies of children from Fallujah, who had escaped ISIS just hours before. They are traumatized and shell-shocked, often unable to answer the most basic questions about themselves or their families.

Fallujah Crisis: A Story of Second Chances

Well, that was quite a detour!

The food pictured herein this post originally rolled out of Baghdad in two big trucks, headed to displacement camps outside of Fallujah. Those trucks got stuck along a dirt road in the desert. And while our colleagues waited for help to come that night, all hell broke loose.

Love Cannot Be Silent: Black Lives Matter

When grief is loud, love cannot be silent.

Our grief is loud today. We grieve the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We grieve the deaths of five slain officers in Dallas.

There are days when it feels as if our collective grief can’t keep up with all the violence—when it feels like the world is being unmade before our eyes.

A decade of living in a conflict zone has taught me this: at the heart of all this violence is fear.

What Can You Do For Baghdad Bombing Victims? Show Up.

The death toll from this week’s bombing in Baghdad has risen to nearly 300. While there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to an attack like this, Sunday’s bombing is the worst Baghdad has seen since the Iraq War began 13 years ago.

After a week filled with violence—also including attacks in Istanbul, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia—many Muslims are wondering:

Where is the outcry? Where is the public outpouring of support? Where is the grief for our loss?

Fallujah Transparency Report

  • $672,226 raised since May 26

  • 306,600 pounds of food delivered

  • 414,039 liters of water provided

That’s what you’ve done for recently liberated families from Fallujah.

Bombing in Baghdad: No, Iraqis Never Get Used to This

There’s a widespread notion that Iraqis must be used to violence by now. There’s a story we hear that goes something like this:

Iraqis have seen so much war, and so many bombs, that they just carry on with life as usual.

Violence doesn’t really phase them anymore.

After all, “those people” have been fighting for centuries.

Fallujah Crisis Update: Quenching Thirst in the Desert

Mom, I’m thirsty.

Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom, I’m thirsty.

Mom. Mommy. I’m thirsty, Mom.

Mooooooooommy, can I have a drink?

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