You're Showing Up in the Wake of Chemical Attacks - An Update from Syria

Three weeks ago, the world was stunned by another chemical attack in Syria. But you refused to just stand by and watch. In the midst of your heartbreak, you leaped into action. Right now, thanks to you, families in Syria are getting the help they need to put their lives back together, even as war still rages around them.

When we asked what people needed in the wake of those attacks, they asked for solutions that went beyond just meeting emergency medical needs. “Instead of merely reacting to the atrocity,” our team in Syria told us, “[we need to] holistically respond to these people’s needs right now.”

That’s what you did.

Turkish Airstrikes Hit Yazidi Homeland in Northern Iraq, Displaced Yazidis Wonder if it Will Ever Be Safe to Go Home

Yazidi family at the base of Sinjar Mountain

Turkish warplanes struck Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq this week. Sinjar is home to the Yazidi people, an ethnoreligious minority who were targeted by ISIS in 2014. Their homeland sits just over the border from Syria—the families who still live here are literally caught between two of the world’s most polarizing conflicts.

Love in the Form of Tanker Trucks - An Update from West Mosul

This week, you met another urgent need in west Mosul—providing clean water to thousands of desperate families trapped in the ongoing battle to take back the city from ISIS.

Our response in Mosul is growing and shifting as the battle progresses. We continue to deliver food packs and hygiene kits in newly liberated neighborhoods. We’re supporting medical clinics on both the eastern and western sides of the city. But water is another critical need in west Mosul right now. 

We’re Not the Answer to Other People’s Problems. They Are.

It’s one of the hardest, most important, and most rewarding lessons we’ve learned in our ten years of living and serving in the Middle East:

Real peace—lasting, sustainable change—only happens when people are able to own their future.

Motherly Love Extends Beyond Family—Lessons from Our Candlemakers

When we visited Lamia, she was sitting calmly in a chair, positioned so the stacks and stacks of candles her team had made quietly demanded to be seen behind her. We greeted her and she tilted her head in hello. Laughter relaxed her body as she introduced herself.

Her eyes were filled with the wisdom she has gleaned from raising four children—three daughters and a son—through conflict and hardship in Iraq, while also overseeing the Sisterhood candlemaking project in Baghdad.

For Khadija, Sewing Provides Moments of Peace in the Midst of Anxiety

“What do you dream about for your future, Khadija?”

“To live in peace with my children.”

Peace, safety, security—things so many of us take for granted, are lofty goals for Khadija, a mom who fled Syria to save her family.

What to do With Your Empty Candle Vessel

So, you were lucky enough to snag one of the limited number of handcrafted Sisterhood Collection candles. You brought it into your home and let its sweet fragrance dance in the air while you read or washed dishes or watched your kids play outside. It burned for hours, reminding you of the light its maker shines against the darkness of war. It served as a tangible piece of empowerment while sitting quietly on your coffee table.

Your Investment in Her Future Gives Nasrin the Luxury to Dream

From where we sit in the dark room, opposite the door so light can stream in across our faces, we can just make out a tiny, blue bird in a bamboo cage. We hear the song before we see the cage—this sweet little bird sings constantly.

“I love this bird!” Nasirin smiles as she talks about the Syrian village where she lived, their small caretaker’s house in an orchard where she and her husband worked as gardeners, and the village trees filled with birds.

This simple songbird reminds her of home.

Sisterhood Soap is more than a's a place to belong

“Hazno—she has no one.”

Being an orphan casts a long shadow in Iraq. Hazno is a grown woman, a mother with children. She married into a large family. We sit and talk in a room teeming with her husband’s family. There is so much life in this room! The other women explain how Hazno’s father died when she was young. Her mother left her to be raised by elderly grandparents so she could remarry. And now, her grandparents are gone too.

Music Inspired by Preemptive Love and Infused with Hope

Everything in you wants to fight
War won't make this right
Lay down your arms

Kellie Haddock doesn’t write music for its own sake alone. “I want to infuse people with hope,” she says, “hope that’s based on the hard and the real.”

For this Christian Community Near Mosul, Easter was Marked by Destruction and Hope

Destruction  and hope, all in one place. It’s a lot to take in.

ISIS held this place, a few minutes’ drive from Mosul, for over two years. The families who lived here are Christian—their roots go back more than 1,400 years.

What We Want You to Know About Our Work in Syria and How We Talk About It

Over a year ago, we set foot in Syria for the first time, hearts broken by the years-long conflict happening just over the border from us, determined to respond. Then last September, you took the next step with us as we completed our first emergency distribution inside Syria, feeding 650 families near Aleppo.  

Grow the Sisterhood

Photo by Christine Anderson

We often draw the lines that separate “us” and “them” based on who is like us and who is not. But what if we intentionally redrew those lines? Not by erasing differences, but by deciding that our differences are precisely what make us, well, “us.”

Painting New Life in East Mosul After ISIS

ISIS graffiti in Mosul

New York Times journalist Rukmini Callimachi shared a series of powerful tweets from her recent visit to east Mosul. The eastern side of the city was liberated in January. But signs of ISIS rule—and the death it brought—still remain. One painter is taking it upon himself to do something about that, replacing ISIS graffiti with messages of hope.

How You Fit Into the Mosaic of Empowerment

As we enter into a new season of growth and rebirth, and watch the earth reemerge from the wrath of winter, it’s only natural to let our minds drift to the rebuilding we've seen, the rebuilding you have made possible here in Iraq and Syria.

''How Could I Forget You? I Wear You on My Hand.''

“How could I forget you? I wear you on my hand.”

Erin, one of our field staff, was out visiting a group of Yazidi refugee friends yesterday. One thing led to another, and the next thing she knows, one of the women is needling a homemade ink mixture into her knuckles—giving her a permanent tattoo—as one does on a casual visit with friends.

Unsung Heroes—Honoring Our Fallen Iraqi Colleagues

It’s the news we dread waking up to: two of our friends and colleagues who’ve served on some of our aid missions in Mosul were killed by ISIS snipers.

They were pretty young, seemingly invincible. The booms and pops that sounded just a few blocks away from where they served may as well have been miles away, fireworks to celebrate a nearly-free Mosul. And how could the war reach them when they were there serving their people? They were just men, doing their part to make sure friends and neighbors had the food they needed after surviving ISIS. Yes, the best was yet to come. Bright futures were ahead.

Stay Awake to Syria's Pain

When my children woke up this morning—our toddler bellowing for freedom from her crib, the older three wandering into the kitchen with sticky-up-hair and sleepy eyes—I wanted to hug them too tight because some part of my soul was howling:

What if it was you? What if it was you in a clinic in Syria, foaming at the mouth, weeping with pain? 

Tomahawks or Toddlers? We Must Not Lose Sight of the Children in Syria

Yesterday morning, everyone was talking about the children of Syria who were killed in Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack. Today, everyone is talking about missiles.

Syria: Don't Settle for a Simple Narrative

The stories out of Syria this week are heartbreaking. Every image of an injured, dead, or traumatized child feels like a kick to the gut.

When innocents suffer, it’s natural to respond with outrage, to point fingers and demand justice. And we should demand justice.  

But that’s not easy in the Syrian crisis because the good guy/bad guy narrative doesn’t work here.

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