Over the past few of weeks, we (Cassandra and Edison) have been traveling throughout Iraq and Syria developing relationships with our local partners on the ground and to check out the schools Justice Rising will be partnering with to rebuild and sponsor. It was also an amazing chance for us to get to know some of the students we’ll be coming alongside of. Through your support, hundreds of students will receive a quality education!
As many of you know, we’ve felt drawn to Iraq for some time now. And In April 2017, during our first scouting trip to the region, we connected with incredible locals working to rebuild their communities post ISIS occupation.
On that initial trip, we were heartbroken over the destruction left behind by ISIS during their three years of terror. We saw homes leveled, businesses destroyed and an underground network of tunnels, which allowed ISIS insurgents to move about undetected. The schools were also used as bases and, as ISIS was being pushed out by Iraqi security forces, they left behind a trail of destruction, further destroying schools and homes to spread fear and hopelessness.
Over a three year period, the people of this community lived in an IDP camp. While free from terror, much of the community still longed to return to their hometown, many of whom were quick to say, "Now that ISIS is gone, I want to go back home and return to my old life."
Traveling to Iraq proved more difficult this time around. Since the Kurdish referendum for independence last September, the Erbil International Airport has remained in forced closure. As a result, we rearranged our plans by flying into Turkey and traveling across the border by road! It was a long and exhausting journey, but well worth the trip.
When we finally arrived, we were greeted by members of the reconstruction committee for our partner community. They walked us through the village and showed us the homes that have already been rebuilt, the ones in the process of being rebuilt, and also met with families who have moved back home. We were encouraged to see that some of the schools were already up and running! While the road to recovery remains long, those who have returned home were overjoyed to be back in their village.
During our trip to Iraq, we had an opportunity to speak with the reconstruction committee about Justice Rising rebuilding the girls’ secondary school. While some girls have resumed their studies, joining the boys’ secondary school, the Ministry of Education requires that girls and boys are separated beginning in the 7th grade. As a result, many female secondary school students remain out of school but long to return.
This is where we come in! Justice Rising is officially moving forward in standing with these young ladies and to ensure they receive equal access and opportunities for quality education!
(Photo is of Edison and our Iraq team in front of the girls school)
Whether in Eastern Congo, Northern Iraq or another conflict area, one of our deeply held beliefs is that you cannot see sustained progress and long term development when only half the population are given real opportunities and options in life. In other words, girls need to be empowered with equal opportunities in order to see real progress in our communities.
We’re currently over half way to our fundraising goal for the girls' secondary school, but we still need your help. We’re looking for 5 (or more) community groups, including churches and other faith communities, schools and radical individuals who will take on a $5K portion to help us reach our funding target to get these bright young girls back into school!
Create a fundraiser on our website and get your friends and family involved. To get involved, please email email@example.com.
To give directly, click here:
Also, stay tuned for more details on our recent trip. Next up, we'll share more on our upcoming projects in Syria!