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. 

Many government offices in Iraq are located in old homes, including this branch of law enforcement that manages cases of lost children and kids who are in trouble with the law. The building has something of a “cell”, but there wasn’t a safe, age-appropriate space where young children could wait while their families were located. They wanted a small room designed to tuck under the main staircase—a cozy space for children, with toys and blankets.

The eight students and their teachers installed the project while the social worker who commissioned the work kept a close eye on their progress. Burly police officers who worked in the building stopped by regularly to check in. Government officials also came by to examine their work. The building’s caretaker too.

No pressure.

But it didn’t matter. These guys knew what they needed to do. They simply set about to do it.

By the end of the course, each student had found their niche. Sami always made sure the project site was tidy. Mustafa, pictured above, was the first to volunteer for the awkward jobs. Hozan made sure the social worker was happy with each detail, and Ali was quick with the level—to make sure their walls were straight against a curved stairwell.

That’s what 10 weeks of training did for these men. After ten weeks of working together, learning how to build doors, windows and cabinets, they had the confidence they needed to problem-solve their way to a completed project. Some of the men from rural backgrounds started from absolute scratch in their learning—they didn’t even know how to use hand tools.

But by the end of the course, they had each completed their own personal projects and felt confident to carry on.

Eight men went through the pilot training course in building with aluminum and PVC—and not a single one dropped out. They were each driven to work and to learn, and it showed. Their families are all displaced. They are from Syria and Iraq, they are Yazidi, Shabak and Kurds, they speak Arabic and different dialects of Kurdish. These men never would have met each other except for the course, yet they worked and learned together beautifully.

This training course was a pilot project—and it isn’t finished. We are still coaching these men through the process of creating their own business. But this first class of students is thrilled with what they achieved.

Each student received a certificate for completing the course which will be proudly hung in their future workshops.

And you made it happen.


 Help displaced families rebuild their lives.

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About Erin Wilson

Communications Officer for Preemptive Love Coalition, based in Iraq. Photographer + artist, storyteller + story gatherer, peace maker + bridge builder, student + teacher, unrepentant lover of unexpected beauty.

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