Although our foreign team left the southern Shimaya district due to security concerns in April 2004, work has continued through locals who have taken responsibility for the projects. By March 2005 we had finished renovating three more schools. We continue to maintain a relationship with the local communities and partnered with UNICEF for the rehabilitation of these schools.
Operation Mercy's foreign team re-located to northern Iraq in the spring of 2005, where we have completed a needs assessment and are pursuing the areas of schools rehabilitation, working with people with disabilities and skills training for the high level of unemployed youth. We plan to work closely with other NGO's and the local communities.
In June '05 we distributed approximately 50 wheelchairs in local centres in Northern Iraq. Many of the children who received the chairs had been waiting for many years to get a wheelchair. Our children's physiotherapist will be continuing with a needs assessment in the area of Community Based Rehabilitation. We are also looking into the training of children and teachers regarding the integration of physically disabled children into public shools.
The areas of health education and sanitation are a priority for our staff and we will focus our schools rehabilitation efforts on these areas. Our plans will result in improved hygiene standards for approximately 8000 children in 2005 by renovating the sanitation facilities.
Operation Mercy's aim in offering skills training is to equip the many young people with the basic skills needed to find good employment. We intend to offer training in basic computer skills and English language.