Last summer we introduced you to some of the children displaced by the war with ISIS—thousands who were no longer able to go to school. You showed up! This school year, you helped to put more than 20,000 children back into the classroom full-time! You also helped children return to school with dignity after escaping ISIS.
You swear your daughter’s school uniform fit her last week! How can it be too small already—her lanky arms poking out from the cuffs? Her shirt didn’t even make it through one semester! Sigh.
There is no extra money for school clothes this month, but no matter. You head for the stash of clothes you saved for days like this: pants once worn by now-taller cousins, summer clothes from the second-hand store that were such a good price you just HAD to buy them, and shirts your older daughter used to wear. Satisfied, you make a mental note to add the too-small shirt to the pile destined for the thrift store.
It never crosses your mind that your stash of hand-me-downs is a luxury that comes with living in a country at peace.
The families who fled Sinjar (in northern Iraq) to escape ISIS took little or nothing with them. Many were roused from bed and ran in their pajamas.
They had to leave behind all the basics: beds and blankets, a favourite pot for cooking rice, the long rolling pins for making their daily bread.
They had to leave behind things that make life so much easier and more affordable: the button box for mending clothes, the tin of spare parts to fix whatever breaks, and the stash of hand-me-down clothes.
Displaced families hoping to put their children back into school no longer have the luxury of uniforms passed down to younger siblings. Once they’ve settled somewhere new and unfamiliar, they have to buy each item for each child.
At $45 per uniform, this puts school out of reach for many families.
For girls especially, a uniform can be the key that unlocks the door back to school.
Last summer, you provided that key.
The school uniforms you provided are allowing young women and girls to continue their education. You are getting them one step closer to university—one step closer to well-paying, sustainable jobs.
These uniforms are giving displaced parents the option of keeping their daughters at home longer, rather than marrying them young because the family can no longer afford to care for them. Uniforms are giving daughters their childhood back.
School uniforms remind girls of their dignity. Previously, every moment of every day, they were reminded of their poverty. ISIS may have taken their homes and their possessions, but you are helping them reclaim something greater: their confidence.
The uniforms you provided will be carefully cleaned, mended, and passed down to younger sisters and cousins. Moms will start to rebuild their clothing stash and feel a little more secure knowing they will be able to look after their children well.
All this from something as simple as a school uniform? Yes!
These girls walk to school each day—with heads held high—because of you.