I’m back in Iraq so I wanted to take the opportunity to update you about a recent TentED project. This initiative exemplifies our ability to rapidly respond to on-the-ground needs in a flexible way that allows our partners to fill capacity gaps, expand programming, and, most importantly, continue educating children displaced by war.
During a previous trip to the region, a representative with Critical Needs Support Foundation (CNSF), a local organization that provides humanitarian relief to displaced Iraqis, asked TentED to fund one of their education initiatives. In 2016, Liane and CNSF had assumed responsibility for supporting a displaced Yazidi community living in a small camp in Erbil. In 2015, we had provided educational assistance to the same community through our friends at the Yazidi Project.
CNSF required $1,500 to purchase school supplies, organize educational field trips, and cover some of the costs to transport children to a local school. After vetting and due diligence, we approved the request within days. Our speed and flexibility allowed CNSF to continue educating the 48 displaced children in the community.
Not long after that, I joined CNSF for a visit to the Yazidi Camp on an early Thursday morning. The camp, a cluttered collection of cement huts, literally sits in the shadow of Erbil’s most elegant hotel. In many ways, this dichotomy perfectly illustrates the inexplicable complexities and challenges associated with the mass movement and accommodation of refugee and displaced populations across the Middle East.
The place had not changed much since my previous visit. To my surprise, the plastic playground sets we had purchased were still there — a bit run down, but still hanging on. My CNSF counterpart, clearly the more disciplined one, set about preparing the community tent for English class, while I chased the kids around and caused general mischief. Eventually, I joined in the schooling, though much of my attention was absorbed by a cheeky, whip-smart girl named Levand. As we read, I would point to an object in the book and little Levand would scream it aloud over and over in endearing English.
Conducting site visits is a fundamental responsibility to our donors and best serves our commitment to transparency. These can be simply transactional affairs. The donor—me—asks dry questions and the funding recipient answers.
In the case of the small Yazidi camp next to the luxury hotel, no such inquiries were necessary. The answer was evident in the bright smiles on the faces of happy children.
Please help me with this important work. My goal is to raise $3,000 in the next 21 days to continue supportting kids like the 48 school-age children in the Yazidi Camp and others like them.
Your generosity—no matter how great or small—is greatly appreciated by us, and by the wonderful kids who will benefit.