Operation Hope volunteers visited Kurdistan in September/October 2018

On 21st of September, Operation Hope Volunteers started arriving in Kurdish Iraq to help the Ezidi people in the North-Western region of Iraq.

Operation Hope Volunteers 2018

The team consisted of (left to right):  Wafaa (Hervey Bay, QLD),  Simon (Brisbane, QLD),   Erica (Newcastle, NSW), Leanne (Brisbane, QLD). Not pictured :  Barbara, from Toowoomba, QLD.

Our second trip to Northern Iraq has come at a time when we are thankful that with the rebuilding projects occurring in Mosul that families in all three of the camps located near Mosul will be able to return and rebuilt their lives.  We are also thankful that we could play a part in the funding of the hospital at Hassam Sham U2 and an office for mental health care.  In May 2017,  five Operation Hope volunteers had the privilege to work in the Hassan Sham camp with the people who had recently fled from Mosul.

Call to the Ezidi People.

Leanne and I have been feeling the call specifically to help the Ezidi people in Northern Iraq. Over the past few months we have taken the opportunity to communicate with advocates here and in Northern Iraq to help us understand the history, current situation and possible assistance we can give the Ezidi people. The Ezidi people are a Kurdish ethnographic-religious community who were targeted in 2014 by ISIS.  They were forced to flee and are unable to return to their villages which still lie in ruins.

We have received an invitation to volunteer as humanitarian volunteers at the Bajed Kandala Camp – 40 minutes drive NW from the large city of Duhok in Kurdistan, and a short distance from the Syrian and Turkish borders.

We will predominantly help with English classes and activities with the school children. Simon will be able to offer his help if there are any cupboards, benches or tables etc to be constructed.  The funds we have raised to take with us will be used to make purchases in Kurdistan –  sewing machines for the new sewing group, timber for small construction projects, education resources, books etc.

We will be teaming up with the Non Government Organisation “Joint Help for Kurdistan” who run a medical clinic managed by Dr Nemam Ghafouri who is a Swedish heart surgeon and founder and spokeswoman for JHFK. Dr Nemam is well known and respected throughout Kurdistan and Iraq in her advocacy for Ezidi people. Information about Joint Help for Kurdistan is linked here.

Shipping Container for Bajed Kandala Camp

We have been able to offer our 40ft shipping container and contents to the people at the Bajed Kandala camp – which houses 11,500 Ezidi people – mainly children and young people. The Bajed Kandala Refugee Camp was established in August/September 2014 following the ISIS invasion and genocide of the Ezidi people in this area.  The shipping container will be delivered to the camp, where the contents will be distributed to the camp residents, the medical centre, two nearby hospitals and a heart clinic under the management of Dr Nemam.  Surgical instruments have been specifically requested for the medical centre in Bajed Kandala Camp and also a camp in Rojava, Syria which houses Ezidi people who recently fled Afrin.

Link to a fact sheet dated September 2015 about the camp. The profile remains very similar.

We are excited to work with Dr Nemam to see the existing projects we might be able to support and to explore opportunities for new projects both in the refugee camp and in the wider community.

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