Interview with SBS Kurdish

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.”

By

Mayada Kordy Khalil

Published on

Sunday, May 12, 2019 – 15:33

File size

20.54 MB

Duration

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.

fullsizeoutput_5bf4(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 small difference in the lives of these people who have suffered extreme trauma and tragedy.”

Ms Henley is a humanitarian volunteer – which means her volunteering work has included assisting teaching english in the camp schools, administration, fundraising and organising groups of volunteers.

fullsizeoutput_5cbe (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.

fullsizeoutput_5318(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 and aid to displaced people and refugees in seven camps in the Duhok province.

fullsizeoutput_52c2(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.   It is hard to try and imagine and come to terms with what these people have suffered,” Ms Henley said.

#OperationHopeAustralia
#Bringinghopeandhealing

Aid Distribution progress

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.

Journey to Kurdistan

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.

See you soon dear friends

Kurdish Lobby of Australia

Tuesday 5 February, 2019

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 Burnside AO QC .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.

Here is the link to their webpage:
www.kurdishlobbyaustralia.com.au
We look forward to working together in the future
#onehumanrace

Newcastle Mosque Open Day

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.

 

 

Thank you to our supporters

A big thank you to all our wonderful financial supporters. Because of your generous donations we were able to help support new and existing projects at Baged Kandala 2 camp under the leadership of NGO “Joint Help for Kurdistan”….

  • purchase educational resources for the students
  • choose colourful fabric, wool, sewing tables, sewing cupboard, a floor mat and build shelves and a shoe box for the sewing group
  • purchase chairs for the english class students
  • buy bedding and floor mat for a volunteer bedroom
  • build shelves and replace lino in the pharmacy
  • buy a ladder for the medical centre
  • replace a shower, install new taps in kitchen and bathroom areas
  • buy pots and pans, meat cleaver etc for kitchen
  • buy a new office chair for the Laboratory technician
  • send money for a new printer for the medical centre (US$250)
  • send money for final payment on medical centre generator ($US920)
  • send money to buy 1 months supply of medicines for the residents at Bajed Kandala 2 camp ($US2000)

Our humanitarian volunteer, Simon Turner, worked wonders using his building and carpentry skills.  He overcame the language barrier and created some very useful items in the camp.

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