Iraq

Iraq: Relief kits distributed in Huriya

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I went to Huriya, a suburb of Baghdad, Sunday 27 July on a hygiene kit distribution. I accompanied Waleed Al-Abrashi, project co-ordinator EMDH (Enfants du Monde Droits de L'Homme), and Ibrahim Ahmed Salama, one of the founding members of the recently formed Huriya community council. This council, called the Iraqi Youth League, formed after the war to address various needs during the power vacuum and transition to a new government.
One of the Leagues committees is the 'Aid and Help Committee'. "This committee will be in charge of receiving the humanitarian aids from other humanitarian and aid agencies and distributing it to the beneficiaries according to pre-prepared forms and plans" (from the charter). This committee was responsible for selecting beneficiaries and distributing the buckets.

Huriya distribution notes

A total of 450 hygiene kits were distributed in this community. Following are observations from three families:

The first house we visited had an extended family of 25 people including 3 widows whose husbands had died in the war with Iran. Ibrahim, from the league, commented on how difficult it had been going to houses with one bucket expecting to find a family and finding three or four. Waleed, from EMDH, opened the bucket and handed out the contents to the children. "It is the first time they have received something since the war, that is why they are so happy", Ibrahim explained as we left.

The next house had 4 families with 19 people. Sabiha Hassen Saad said to me, "We appreciate the work of your organization."

The third family had already received their bucket some days before. I think they took me there because it is a Christian family in an overwhelmingly Muslim neighborhood and they wanted to emphasize that religion plays no role in beneficiary selection. There were four families/14 people (8 children). "Christian/Muslim relations are very good", they told me, "We just want peace. The Muslims are our brothers." Waleed asked about the quantity of the buckets. They politely responded that it was sufficient. When Waleed asked again they said that they had given the bucket to Alla's sister because her home had been bombed in the war. Ibrahim went out to the van to get them another bucket. Waleed opened it and handed the contents out to the children.

Gratitude

On the way back to EMDH from the first house Ibrahim said several things to me unprompted:

"Iraq is in a very difficult time. What you did has made a lot of people happy. We are very grateful that people 1000's of kilometers away care about us enough to sent something."

During the drive back it was noted that a laborer must work about two days to by one towel. It would take at least two weeks of work to purchase the contents of the kits. This is very helpful during a time in which payment of salaries and wages has been greatly disrupted by the war and the following insecurity.

This was an effective distribution to meet the hygiene needs of vulnerable families and children. And it was done in a way that strengthens community structures and initiative.

- Steve Weaver