In 10 Cities Around Iraq, You are Helping People get Back to Work

Across Iraq, families have fled violence or find themselves living in cities recently liberated from ISIS control. Men need to find new jobs because their old way of life is gone. Many women are having to shoulder the responsibility of providing for their families alone because their husbands and sons did not survive. As they look at their options, you have come alongside to give encouragement—and fire-up their imaginations.

Peacemaker Fridays: Mosul Residents Save Their Christian Neighbors From ISIS

For Christians, living under ISIS was essentially a death sentence. But for at least these two Christians in Mosul, their Muslim neighbor’s choice to love anyway saved them from almost-certain death. These are the peacemakers.  

Three Years Ago Today, ISIS Tried to Wipe Out the Yazidi People... And Failed

Three years ago today, life changed completely for the Yazidi people of northern Iraq. On August 3, 2014, ISIS swept into Sinjar, the Yazidi homeland, and committed genocide. It was the day that has defined every day since.

That Moment When Refugee Kids Can Just Be Kids Again

When we first met many of our refugee friends in northern Iraq, they were desperate. They had barely escaped genocide at the hands of ISIS, and they were asking us for food rations, formula for their babies, and money for medical expenses.

Then you showed up. Now, thanks to your partnership and their hard work—making soap, farming, and knitting—many of them are well on their way to independence again.

The Number of Families Fleeing War in Iraq Is 'Staggering.' But That’s Not the Whole Story.

A staggering 3.3 million Iraqis have been displaced by war, according to the latest UN figures. To put that in perspective, that’s almost 10 percent of the entire country. It’s more than the entire population of Chicago or Paris. And that’s not counting the quarter million Syrian refugees who have fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq.

But here’s the thing you really need to know: 2.5 million of these people do NOT live in the sprawling tent cities you see on the news, with UN logos emblazoned everywhere.

‘We Killed Them All. ISIS, Men, Women, Children.’ - A Soldier’s Confession in Mosul

I can’t stop thinking about the words of an Iraqi soldier describing his orders during the final days of fighting in Mosul:  

“We killed them all—ISIS, men, women, children. We killed everyone.”

How to Wage Peace in the Comment Section: Three Things You Should Start (and Stop) Doing

In this day and age, there’s nothing quite as unexpected as someone being kind on the internet. A person who speaks respectfully on Facebook is like some kind of a magical unicorn.

The rules of common human decency don’t seem to apply on the interwebs. We give ourselves a free pass to say things we would never say (hopefully!) to someone’s face.

This is a missed opportunity.

Here's How Your Love Showed Up in Syria Last Month

The battle for the city of Raqqa—the ISIS capital in Syria—rages on. Peace talks have seen limited success, including a narrow ceasefire agreement in parts of the country—but the Syrian people have seen many ceasefires come and go.

You, however, remain steady in your outpouring of love and help in Syria.

Here are highlights from last month...

What To Do With ISIS Families in Mosul?

People in Mosul are divided about what to do with the families of ISIS fighters now that the battle to retake the city is over. 

“The families of ISIS fighters are more dangerous than the members of ISIS themselves,” says Basma Basim, the head of the Mosul district council. “They are the soil in which the seeds of ISIS have been planted and allowing them to stay in the city will mean a repeat of the bloody scenario that has taken place here.”

A Heatwave Disrupted Our Hydroponics Project in Syria. But We’re Not Stopping.

Recently, we told you about an experimental effort to help Syrian families feed themselves in the middle of their country’s civil war.

Even before we distributed food to survivors of last April’s chemical attack, our team in Syria was asking: what would it take to give families more control over their food situation, to reduce their dependence on aid? Emergency food distributions are an essential lifeline in the middle of a crisis, but they are not a long-term solution.

The Biggest Threat to ISIS Ideology? It’s Not What You Think.

There’s a reason ISIS destroys TVs like this one that I saw on the streets of Mosul. There’s a reason they ban cell phones. There’s a reason they go house to house searching for satellite dishes, radios, or any other means of contact with the outside world. In cities like Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria, punishments for being caught with a phone include public whipping and having your hand cut off.

It seems the more territory ISIS loses, the more paranoid they become.

How To Make Peace In A Divided World

Banksy Love Doctor. Photo by El Payo / CC BY-NC 2.0

We stood outside the glass doors of the hospital, my childhood friend and I, poised to go our separate ways. His father was upstairs, on the 2nd floor, and the outlook was grim.

“The fact that he’s up there is one thing,” he said, looking up over his shoulder. “But coming on the heels of this thing with my mom... it’s like everyone thinks there is one cup of love,” he held his hand together like a cup, “and if I pour this much into his cup, that only leaves me this much to pour into her cup. But love isn’t like that. Love isn’t finite.”

Peace ≠ Neutrality

Street art by Banksy. Photo by Luxerta / CC BY-NC 2.0

Those who work for peace are sometimes perceived as being neutral. Their refusal to respond in kind to hate or aggression is sometimes seen as a refusal to take a stand against evil.

Wanting peace is not the same as being neutral. You can push for peace and justice at the same time.

No Army Can Defeat ISIS... But We Can

For the last remaining ISIS fighters still holed up in Mosul and for those based in Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria, there is increasingly no way out. They are surrounded. Foreign fighters have even less chance of escape, since they’re unable to blend in with locals who are fleeing the battle.

Now, foreign fighters they’re being targeted for extermination—in some cases, by their own countries.

Can You Change the Lives of Eight Families in Ten Weeks?

They were nearly at the end of their training course—eight men who learned how to build with aluminum and PVC. Their last assignment was to work together to complete a real project for a real client. They read the brief together, visited the site, and took measurements together. The social worker who commissioned a ‘child-friendly space’ to be built in the local juvenile detention center knew exactly what she wanted—our students needed to deliver. 

What Do Sheep Have To Do With Chemotherapy? Everything.

Daod winces each time he shifts his thin frame on the sleeping mat. There isn’t much padding between his bones and the cool concrete floor below.

Daod is 17. He lives in Mosul, is a big fan of Lionel Messi and loves to watch prank shows on TV. And he’s been fighting cancer for the last three years.

Defying ISIS and Dodging Airstrikes to Provide Medical Care in Mosul

“What drove you to do this work, despite the danger?”

“Our shared humanity.” Ibtisam speaks with the confidence of someone who has lived a dozen lifetimes during her short time on earth. “How could I not help when I had the [medical] experience that people needed?”

What is Jihad? It's Complicated...

In the opening days of World War II, Europe experienced the original “shock and awe” campaign. Nazi Germany’s military forces unleashed unprecedented terror onto neighbouring countries. They were the first to use modern technology at immense scale, in order to launch “an intense military campaign intended to bring about a swift victory.”The Germans called this blitzkrieg, which translates into English as “lightning war”.

Turning Crisis Into Opportunity for Refugees

During grade school, Ibrahim’s friends were busy with math, science, and memorizing vocabulary—normal stuff for fifth graders. They walked to school together, kicked balls (or cans or stones or whatever else was handy) on their way home, and talked about upcoming holidays for their Yazidi community. Like kids everywhere, they were always longing for the next holiday.

But by fifth grade, Ibrahim didn’t walk to school with his friends anymore. He worked on a neighbour’s potato farm and used his earnings to help his family. 

Meet The Boy Who Risked His Life to Save His Family During the Battle for Mosul

Ali risked his young life to help his family survive the battle for Mosul

They kept waiting for the shooting to stop, but it just went on and on, for hours.

“Actually, we waited days for the fighting to stop,” Rajab emphasized.

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