Our dear friend Cathy Kuipers passed away on 27 March, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia.
Cathy was one of the founding members of Operation Hope Australia and quickly jumped at the opportunity to volunteer in refugee camps in Greece in September 2016. She then joined us volunteering at the Hassan Sham U2 camp for internally displaced people near Mosul, Iraq in May, 2017. Cathy continued to be involved in the financial side of our activites up until the time of her death. We miss her enthusiasm, her jest for life and wicked sense of humour. Cathy had a real heart for refugees both in Australia and overseas.
Our sincere sympathy to her daughter Cara and family.
Your life was a blessing,
your memory a treasure,
you are loved beyond words
and missed beyond measure.
11 tonnes of equipment and aid has been unpacked from the shipping container and the distribution process has started. Approximately 12 hospitals in Kurdistan and Syria including Maternity hospitals, Dental clinics, Blood Banks, Emergency departments, Paediatric emergency, the Joint Help for Kurdistan medical clinic at Baged Kandala 2 camp and a Burns & Plastic Hospital will receive the medical equipment.
Refugees and Internally Displaced People from at least 7 camps in Kurdistan and Syria will be the recipients of the aid. Priority will be given to orphans, widows, women and children recently released from ISIS and the poorest families (not having any money to even pay the school fees to help educate their children). You can read about the distribution and view a couple of videos at the most recent blog post here.
2,199 x “Days for Girls” hygiene kits have been given to the NGO “The Lotus Flower”. Last year they ran two successful workshops in Rwanga refugee camp. All the kits will be distributed through womens health workshops at Rwanga camp and Essyan camps for internally displaced people and the Domiz camp for Syrian refugees.
Despite our best efforts to reduce the storage costs at the privately run customs facility and an appeal to the Assistant Governor for Duhok province, the extra fees, due to delayed processing incurred during the import of the container, amount to US$2,090 at customs and US$3,495 to the Turkish transport company.
Fortunately we had budgeted for some extra fees but have a shortfall of $A2939. We would really like to complete the shipping project without debt so that we can proceed to fund other projects for the refugees and IDPs in Kurdistan.
Could you help us with a donation?
via internet banking or personally at a Westpac Bank in Australia Account Name: Operation Hope Australia Ltd BSB: 034 087 Account Number: 045 791 SWIFT/IBAN Code: WPACAU2S or
Kim Henley and I are counting down the sleeps until we fly out from Sydney to Erbil, Kurdistan in Northern Iraq…..3 1 more sleeps!
Although we will be based in the city of Duhok, we will travel each day to Bajed Kandala 2 camp (located 20kms east of the Syrian border) and work with NGO Joint Help for Kurdistan. We will be unpacking the 40ft shipping container and helping with distribution of the contents to hospitals in Kurdistan and the families in Bajed Kandala 2 camp.
Attached are some photos of the contents of the 40 ft shipping container – currently sitting in a customs warehouse near Duhok…….we are hoping that these contents will be repacked into the shipping container and be transported into the camp in the next day or two.
Special thanks to Majeed Shukrey and Alan Diyar, in Kurdistan, who are helping us with the shipping container project – we could not do succeed without your help.
I had the most delightful time in Sydney this afternoon….meeting with the President of the Kurdish Lobby of Australia…Mr Eziz Bawermend. The Lobby has been registered since 2015 and its boasts international as well as national membership.
We are very appreciative of their recent donation which has gone towards the purchase of an oxygen concentrator, which will be taken in my luggage and delivered to Sinjar hospital. Sinjar hospital is still lying in ruins – 90% devastated during the invasion of Daesh in 2014. This will be the only oxygen concentrator in the hospital and will be used regularly to help save lives of patients.
A recently elected board member is well known human rights and refugee advocate Julian William Kennedy BurnsideAOQC .Julian Burnside is walking the walk. He does his human rights work pro bono. He and his wife have a spare room in their house. Over the years they regularly welcomed asylum seekers to live with them. Afghanis and other nationals.
Another board member is Rev Bill Crews, dearly loved and respected for his years of work with the community at the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross. Rev Crews is also the founder of The Exodus Foundation – feeding the hungry and operating a multipurpose Health and Outreach centre. In 2015 Rev Crews was announced as the recipient of the 2015 New South Wales Human Rights Award.
What a lovely time at the Newcastle Mosque Open Day…..great opportunity for multi faith dialogue and conversations, food, fun, henna and friendship.
Sheikh Khamis invited me to share the story of Operation Hope Australia and our projects and programmes for the displaced people and refugees in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. It was a pleasure to speak to such a diverse but supportive audience.
Thank you Sheikh Mohamed Khamis and the families of the Newcastle Mosque for your warm welcome and support for the projects of Operation Hope Australia Ltd.
FANTASTIC NEWS TO SHARE: 25 January, 2019
1. A mobile oxygen concentrator has been donated to Sinjar hospital by a Doctor in Germany – thank you Dr Andreas Gammel. Thank you also to Franz Josef Hoellwarth from Austria, who responded to my urgent request by communicating the need to Dr A. Gammel. Also many thanks Franz for your continuing tireless efforts for the refugees and IDPs in Northern Iraq.
2. Funds have been raised here in Australia to purchase a oxygen concentrator for the Sinjar hospital. Thank you to all the generous donors here in Australia. Special thanks also to Danny Chard from Vital Resus in Newcastle for his generous discounted price.
Both oxygen concentrators will be delivered and in use by March.
Have a beautiful weekend my friends – wherever you are in this incredible world.
* * * *
19 January, 2018
Kim and I are travelling to Kurdistan in February, 2019 to help unpack and distribute the contents of the 40ft shipping container we sent at the end of 2018. I will be coordinating women’s health workshops for 1,300+ women and girls at the Bajed Kandala 2 camp.
I have received an urgent request from Dr Hussein Nasser Ra Sho who works in Sinjar. The Sinjar hospital suffered damage from direct air strikes in 2014 which destroyed 90% of the hospital. The hospital has not been rebuilt and now Dr Hussein works in the emergency department which has been relocated to what was a previously a primary care medical centre. It is a small 4 bed facility with another 6 beds for critically ill patients. They have very little in the way of basic medical equipment. Last year a woman died in childbirth , small premmie babies have died being transported from this facility to hospitals in Mosul, seeking medical help.
Dr Hussein needs an oxgyen concentrator for the emergency department and one for the ambulance. These are vital pieces of medical equipment that will save lives – from small babies through to the elderly.
When Kim and I travel to Kurdistan we will be able to take the two oxygen concentrators in our luggage and personally deliver to Dr Hussein. So the challenge is on to raise $4,100 to enable the purchase here in Newcastle in the next few weeks.
Can you help us save the lives of Ezidi people living in terrible conditions in the ruins of Sinjar? Every donation will help us reach our target in this life saving project.
Donations can be made:
By deposit through any Australian bank or online banking to the account of Operation Hope Australia Ltd. BSB: 034087 Account Number: 04 5791 For overseas donors use SWIFT/IBAN Number: WPACAU2S
By paypal or credit card via our webpage: operationhopeaustralia.com Simply press the donate button
By cheque F/- Operation Hope Australia Ltd. Mail to 47 Coal Point Rd, Coal Point, New South Wales 2283 Australia
Receipts can be issued if you advise us your email or mailing address
Further information or enquires can be made to Erica Henley, Chairwoman of Operation Hope Australia Ltd +61 2 409 505 945 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Click below to listen to interview with Erica Henley, Founder and Chairwoman of Operation Hope Australia with SBS Kurdish (in english)
“I am a very ordinary woman who has been fortunate enough to be able to participate in some extraordinary projects. I live in Newcastle, I am married and have two adult sons.”
Mayada Kordy Khalil
Sunday, May 12, 2019 – 15:33
11 min 13 sec
Erica Henley is an advocate for human rights, especially for those who have been internally displaced within their homeland or have had to flee their war torn country as asylum seekers or refugees.
She continually feels the call to help those who have experienced trauma and tragedy through war and genocide.
(Shopping at the markets at the camp to buy fabric for the women’s sewing groups)
“I love that I am in a position where I can actually help and make a difference in the lives of these people who have suffered extreme trauma and distress.”
Ms Henley is a humanitarian volunteer – which means her volunteering work includes everything except medical.
(40ft shipping container sailed from Sydney in early December 2018)
Since 2016 she’s volunteered in Greece and Iraq in the camps for refugees and internally displaced people.
“The relationships and friendships that are built are just beautiful,” Ms. Henley told SBS Kurdish.
Ms. Henley is the founder and chairwoman of a not for profit organisation called Operation Hope Australia Ltd which was successfully registered in NSW in 2018 as a charity and a benevolent institution.
(Humanitarian volunteer teaching English in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq 2018)
“I reflect on what we have been able to achieve in the last three years as a tiny little charity, we are now registered and raised close to $100,000 in three years,” said Ms. Henley.
In March this year Erica Henley and her husband travelled to Kurdistan Region, Iraq to gain release of their 40ft shipping container filled with aid out of customs in Kurdistan, transported into a camp then unpacked ready for distribution of the medical equipment to 12 hospitals in Syria and Kurdistan Region for displaced people and refugees in seven camps in the Duhok province.
(Kim Henley sorting some of the medical equipment)
“I have led small teams of Australian volunteers to Greece in 2016, and Kurdistan Region, Iraq in 2017 & 2018. In March this year I visited refugee camps in Kurdistan Region, it is hard to try and imagine and come to terms with what these people have suffered,” Ms Henley said.
The team from Joint Help for Kurdistan has started distributing the humanitarian aid from the shipping container. The arrival of the container and its release for distribution coincided with the Kurdish New Year celebration of Newroz. Packages of toys, clothes and gifts were distributed to the most needy families so the parents would be able to give them to their children at Newroz.
Distribution to the needy at Baged Kandal Camps 1 & 2 continued today as more packs prepared by the Joint Help for Kurdistan crew were distributed. Thanks to Salih, Amina H Juno, Ahmed, Hamo, Aido, Saado, Heat Sdfa, Dr. Ahmed, Majid and Jalal.
It has been a huge job in preparing, cataloging, packing, weighing, shipping, getting it though the border, then customs clearance, but now to see the hard work going to those it was intended to help makes all the stress worthwhile.
And yes – the shipping did go over budget due to the delays at the border and at customs, so if you can help us cover some of the US$3,000 in extra costs, our projects for 2019 can start immediately.
It has taken a long 13 months. Starting with a generous donation of money, then the offer of a steriliser and neo-natal resuscitation unit from Narribri hospital, in New South Wales, which fitted into a 6×4 trailer, the project has grown to encompass over 9 tonnes of medical equipment and humanitarian aid, and a 40 ft shipping container.
The last month has been the longest. Shipping began with transfer of the container to Port Botany in Sydney from the warehouse in Newcastle, then the generous donation of the shipping cost took it to Mersin, in Turkey. Overland transport to the Kurdish Iraq border where it stopped for 3 weeks waiting for clearance to enter Iraq. Then to a customs warehouse for inspection of the contents, so the container was emptied, and more paperwork was prepared for customs clearance. Several errors meant this had to be repeated twice, with delays each time. And still, the container was not released.
We arrived here 3 days ago to be told there were not 6 Infant Incubators, but 9 of them, so three were not listed. On the second visit to the customs centre we found this was NOT the case, but the problem was with 3 incorrect serial numbers on the incubators … then the first one we inspected had the correct serial number !! The next 2 were wrong – my mistake: I remember writing them down one night when they were in the garage without my glasses. Lesson: wear you glasses!
We have had immense assistance from a range of people to help solve the import problems. Majeed Shukrey and Alan Diyar has been totally committed to getting the container through. Alan has shuttled us around Duhok, translated at customs and took us to Erbil to have a 5 minute meeting with the head of the Kurdistan Medical Control Agency to fix the problem with the serial numbers. The Turkish truck driver has been away from his family for nearly 5 weeks.
It was released from customs on Sunday 3 March at 5pm and an hour later it arrived at Bajed Kandala Camp 2 and we could finally record it arriving as night fell.