See Beyond Handouts

Nasra and another displaced woman buy supplies for their new sewing businesses 

When we look across Syria and Iraq, it is easy to lose heart.

Faced with the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, the numbers quickly overwhelm. It becomes easy to see statistics instead of people. 

When desperate families near Mosul overrun our aid distributions—because they have nothing and they’re tired of waiting for help to arrive—it becomes easy to see victims instead of people.

But you see what others don’t. Even in places that seem utterly bereft of hope, you see possibility.

You see strength in the eyes of refugee moms and dads. You see people who already have what it takes to rebuild, to care for their families—they just need someone who believes in them.

Yes, you help meet their most urgent needs. Right now, all around Mosul, you're providing food, water for families caught up in the fighting. But you see beyond handouts. You see the next chapter of their story—the part where they dust themselves off, get back up, and remake their lives.

You don’t think they should have to wait until the crisis is over, until everything is “normal” again. You don’t think we should wait until the tents have all come down and the camps have been cleared before we start thinking about things like empowerment and livelihoods and economic opportunity.

A refugee carptenter makes wooden soap dishes for the Sisterhood Soap Gift Set

Inside a refugee carpenter's shop in Iraq

Because it’s one thing to help refugees survive. But helping them flourish? Even in the face of hardship? That’s how we change the future together. 

These families in Syria and Iraq—those who’ve lost everything to ISIS, whose homes were destroyed in airstrikes, who are caught up in wars not of their own making…

They are meant for more than survival.

They deserve more than short-term solutions.

And you are showing up for them—not just with aid (though that is often a vital first response)—but with empowerment, opportunity, and hope.

You have empowered hundreds of refugee soapmakers, craftsmen, seamstresses, shop owners, and farmers. You’ve provided empowerment grants to help families start new businesses. You’ve given them the tools and training they need to succeed.

Where others see only refugees, you see entrepreneurs. 

Displaced women buy notions for their sewing businesses.

A seamstress shows off her latest design in a refugee camp in Iraq

The people you’ve empowered—they aren’t just numbers or faces. They’re people we’ve wept with, celebrated with. They’re our friends and neighbors.

Real empowerment cannot be mass-produced. Real empowerment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It takes relationship. It takes listening. You have to walk the long road with someone, so you can discover what skills and interests they have—what unique value they can add to their community. And then you have to tap into that, nurture it, and set it loose.

That’s what you’re doing every day for Syrian and Iraqi refugees here.

As ISIS is pushed back in Iraq, as more lives are disrupted by violence while others begin to rebuild, we’ll continue walking the long road. We’ll continue showing up for the people of Syria and Iraq with jobs and opportunity and income and empowerment.

We’ll continue giving families what they need not just to survive, but to thrive.

Go with us.

Faris, one of our refugee friends, with the used truck he was able to purchase so he could expand his business making Kinsman Soap

 Gozê lost everything to ISIS, but she is reclaiming her future through Sisterhood Soap.


Empower families to rebuild after ISIS. Give now, and bring new life to Syria and Iraq.

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About Ben Irwin

Husband, father, storyteller, children's book author, occasional marathon runner, and director of communications and PR for Preemptive Love Coalition

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See Beyond Handouts
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