I first heard about TentED about a year ago. It was in the middle of the brutally hot Iraqi summer, and one year since ISIS had wreaked havoc throughout Iraq and forced millions of citizens to flee their homes. Through one of our partners, I learned about the TentED mission to advance education for children displaced by war by providing rapid, targeted funding in support of other organizations.
At the time, our work at World Orphans had grown considerably. We were providing housing to 100 Yazidi and Shabak families, two of the more vulnerable minority communities in Iraq. Recognizing that providing quality education would be a critical next step, we started English classes for the children. This quickly snowballed into a comprehensive informal education program, largely due to a partnership we forged with Italian relief agency Terre des hommes, which was financially backed by TentED.
The results of the joint project were dramatic. Within months we had gone from three days of classes each week to five, and we were able to hire four teachers and two social workers to educate and care for roughly 100 children. By pooling our resources and working together, we avoided the bureaucratic red tape that stifles so much progress within the world of aid and development organizations.
But TentED support didn’t end there. In December 2015, Zack Bazzi, TentED co-founder and executive director, traveled to Soran to learn more about our work. Zack met with our staff and saw firsthand how our combined effort was meeting critical educational needs for refugee children. TentED then provided us an additional $5,000 to help us meet a budget shortfall for that year.
Today, World Orphans is in the midst of an ambitious but urgently needed school construction campaign. We are building a 16,000-square-foot school that will allow us to provide a quality education and psycho-social counseling for up to 600 boys and girls whose lives have been upended by the ongoing violence.
Once again, TentED has stepped up to support us. By committing to raise $12,500 to equip 10 classrooms in the new school and providing all the resources necessary to give kids uprooted by war the chance to get out of the camps and back into classrooms where they belong. These girls and boys will now have the chance to dream again, and to build a better future for their families and for their country.TentED, Thank you for walking this journey with us. We are proud to call you partners in education.
For the last month, I’ve been in Kurdistan implementing the project on behalf of the group. By virtue of being a small, targeted operation, TentED is able to provide precise support exactly where it’s needed. We solicit requests for supplies and services from educators and officials who have intimate knowledge of students’ needs from working in the schools day in and day out. With comparatively little capital, we have made an outsized impact.
TentEd is first and foremost about helping people who need help. It’s about showing individuals in need that Americans care. Yet, it’s personal in its approach, centered on people rather than process. For me, it has served as a vessel for reconciliation with an impossibly intense life chapter. Rather than leaving Iraq in my past, I have discovered a new reality and have come to cherish this place.