Food, But No Means to Cook It: Fallujah Crisis Update

This is what showing up for Fallujah looks like.  

Since the crisis began, you've provided food for thousands of families who have fled ISIS, many of whom have landed in displacement camps around the city. They had been starving for months, and they needed food. You showed up. You responded—and continue to respond—to their calls for help. You've helped deliver hundreds of thousands of pounds of food so far.

But these camps are stretching at the seams. More families flee Fallujah every day; many of them arrive to nothing more than a tent—if that. 

Going in, we had the understanding that each tent had a stove. But as we showed up with food, we discovered that many families have yet to receive stoves. 

Instead, they were sharing makeshift cinderblock stoves, using pots some women carried from home when they fled.

We couldn't imagine how 3,000 camp residents could be fed like this. Where in this desert would they ever find enough fuel to burn in order to make fires? 

A woman displaced by ISIS tries to cook for her family on a makeshift stove built of cinder blocks.

The displacement camp set in the desert.

Because we were there on the ground, we knew we couldn't shrug our shoulders and say, "That's someone else's problem." We knew we had to bridge this cruel bureaucratic gap that caused starving people to possess food—but no means to cook it. After all, rice and lentils aren't food until you can cook them. 

So you showed up again—this time with kerosene stoves. 

You were there when our team returned to Baghdad and bought stoves at the bazaar. Purchasing them locally meant they were able to get a good price and respond quickly. 

You were there when we loaded up trucks to the brim, ready to return.

Trucks filled with stoves cross the Bzebez bridge.

You were there as we crossed the tiny bridge at Bzebez, past people waiting their turn to cross, past people fleeing the other direction—carrying what they could.

Families displaced by ISIS wait their turn to cross the bridge as they flee.

Families fleeing ISIS carry what they can as they try to find safety.

You drove with our team as they traveled through the desert, and through armed checkpoints.

Trucks filled with stoves travel desert roads and through armed checkpoints, on their way to provide displaced Fallujans the means to cook.

You were there as our team waited, patient and polite, as security police confirmed all the clearances we needed to get these stoves to people in need.

Securing permission to deliver stoves to families displaced by ISIS.

You were with us as we drove through the main gates of one of the camps, past the point where people gather, down dusty lanes with tents on either side, past women watching with a mix of curiosity and hope.

At the gates of the displacement camp, you find the desperate looking for any sign of hope.

Trucks piled high with stoves make their way through a displacement camp south of Fallujah. You brought hope and comfort there.

A woman stands at the entrance to her tent, looking towards our truck full of stoves.

You were there, navigating rows of tents as we delivered stoves to each tent, while children chased you around the camp. Because of you, 3,000 people now have lifesaving food—and the means to cook it. 

We handed out kerosene stoves, 1 per tent, allowing 3000 hungry people the ability to eat cooked meals.

Delivering kerosene stoves in a displacement camp south of Fallujah.

A Fallujan boy, displaced by ISIS, flashes the victory sign.

We often see the victory sign flashed by the hopeful. It can seem a strange site at first, in a dusty camp where people have lost everything. 

But you are creating victory over starvation and insecurity—one stove, one meal, one family at a time.

We'll continue to show up for the families of Fallujah. Thank you for showing up with us. Please continue to provide food, water, and other lifesaving essentials. 

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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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Food, But No Means to Cook It: Fallujah Crisis Update
Food, But No Means to Cook It: Fallujah Crisis Update
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