Iraq Youth Hike Press Release

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The EPIC Idea

This summer, the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) will bring together a group of Iraqi kids of diverse backgrounds to do something many of them would otherwise never get a chance to do: go on a guided nature hike through theZagros Mountainsin the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

During better times, Iraqi families traveled to other parts of the country for recreation and vacation. Today, most children inIraqlive their entire lives in only one city or province. In divided cities likeMosulandKirkuk, families fear allowing their children to go beyond their neighborhoods boundaries. Kids have fewer opportunities to form friendships with kids from different backgrounds, learn about the environment, discover new things about themselves, and fulfill their potential.

EPIC is teaming up with experienced local guides, ecologists, and nature photographers. Together, we will provide these kids with the chance to learn new skills, form new friendships with kids from different communities, and discover new opportunities for future careers, fields of study, and hobbies. We will also put cameras in their hands, so they can document what they learn about each other, themselves, and the environment.

Northern Iraqhas tremendous natural beauty, and is the most secure part of the country. Help us create a safe space, and a positive learning atmosphere, for these kids that will foster life-long lessons.

Our Impact

Nearly 70 percent of Iraqis are under the age of 30. These young people are defining the future of their country. EPICs Iraqi Youth Hike project will provide a weekend of safe, healthy, and constructive activities for Iraqi youth from different backgrounds including Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Yazidis, Mandaeans, and other minorities.??

The project will empower these youth with new skills and knowledge, experience the wonders of hiking through the Zagros Mountains and seeing wildlife in their natural habitats, and discover new ways to make a difference in their communities. This helps them ensure that that their future is stronger, more stable and based on mutual respect.

If we exceed our fundraising goal, well expand the scope of the project by organizing additional youth activities and signing-up more kids. If our campaign is less-than fully funded, we will implement as much of our initiatives as we can with the budget we have.

The Education for Peace in Iraq Center

In the mid-1990s, there were news reports about a public health emergency and damage to basic life in Iraq, untold suffering under the regime of Saddam Hussein, and a comprehensive United Nations trade embargo. This sparked humanitarian concerns in theUnited States and around the world. Children got dangerously sick and couldnt receive lifesaving health care, young adults couldn’t attend and speak freely in school, Iraqis were cut off from the outside world, and human rights defenders and ordinary citizens were jailed and killed without cause.

Motivated by these concerns, and recognizing the need to act, EPIC was founded. We brought together veterans, Iraqi-Americans, aid workers, doctors, advocates, faith communities, and ordinary Americans as a grassroots movement to improve humanitarian conditions inIraq.

With tens of thousands of Americans raising their voices in unison behind it, EPIC became a leading organization in theU.S., amplifying the authentic needs and concerns that everyday Iraqis were expressing. Since its founding in 1998, EPIC has built bridges across communities, connecting organizations and concerned citizens committed to a peaceful, prosperous and secure Iraq.

What We Need and Why

We’re raising $2,500 as part of our larger project budget of $12,500. The project budget will cover the following expenses: local bus transportation for the kids and their guides, food and supplies, an interpreter and translator (Arabic, Kurdish & English), digital cameras and training, certified hiking guides, a hiking safety and first aid orientation for participants, an environmental education workshop, one international air fare for American youth project director, and monitoring, reporting and evaluation by EPIC. Why do we need money for monitoring, reporting, and evaluation? Because its essential to ensure that the kids are safe and benefiting from the programming and evaluate the impact of the program on the youths lives.

EPIC is a registered non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible.