Operation Hope received 2,200 women’s health kits, from some of the NSW & Qld chapters of the International organisation “Days for Girls”, and included these kits in our shipping container project to Iraq. Following a fund-raising event during refugee week in June, $3777.00 was sent to the Lotus Flower to help support the start of the workshops.
These kits will be distributed in Women’s & Girls Health Workshops run by NGO “The Lotus Flower”. The participants in the 3 – 4 hour workshops are the traumatised women and girls who are either refugees or internally displaced women living in the massive tent camps in Kurdistan. A local Coordinator will oversee and train local women from the camps, who will present the workshops in their native language.
The presenters will each receive a salary which will bring financial stability and independence for them. Long term the workshops will continue using women’s health kits made by the women (often widows and/or recently released by ISIS) who work in “The Lotus Flower” sewing groups in the camps. These workshops and distribution of the kits provide a sustainable long term employment program for many women and give education, dignity and independence to many women and girls. Operation Hope is financially supporting the workshops. Thank you to those who have donated to this wonderful project.
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.
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.