The children of Iraq have survived years of conflict but have hope for a better future. Recognizing their power to shape the future of Iraq, the central focus of EPIC’s advocacy and programs is youth and peacebuilding. In 2011, EPIC developed partnerships on the ground and developed curriculum for our first project, the Iraqi Youth Hike. Over the next years, EPIC will continue to develop partnerships with local Iraqi organizations and institutions to carryout youth projects on issues including environmental education, entrepreneurship and innovation, female empowerment, and arts and technology. Not only will our coalition of partners be diverse, but so too will the young Iraqis we reach. Each project will reach young people from both rural and urban areas in southern, central, and northern Iraq. In addition, at least one project each year will involve youth with disabilities.
Over the next few years, EPIC will establish a Summer Youth Institute for Iraqi youth. The institute will bring young people together from all of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Among other activities, there will be sports, educational programs, cultural exchanges, and a community service component. While the kids are having fun, they will also be learning and forming lasting friendships. Our goal is to empower youth to build a more peaceful, prosperous Iraq.
The Ground Truth Project is a series of interviews offering unique perspectives from Iraqis, aid workers, returning soldiers, and others who have lived, worked, or served in Iraq. The Ground Truth Project provides Americans with unparalleled access to first-hand accounts of the daily realities of life in Iraq. EPIC hopes these interviews will inspire meaningful policy change and citizen action in support of a better future for all Iraqis.
Iraq Peace & Development Working Group (IPDWG)
EPIC co-chairs the Iraq Peace and Development Working Group (IPDWG), a community of more than 50 NGOs advocating changes in U.S. policy to reduce suffering and conflict in Iraq. Initiated by EPIC in December 2006, the group gathers regularly to share information and coordinate strategy.
Civil Society Petition
Last year, the president requested $57 million to support local Iraqi civil society organizations. This year, he requested only $32.5 million. With over 1,500 signatures on our petition, EPIC and our members demanded Congress fund local, independent community-based organizations in Iraq. While so many gains have been made in empowering local activists and human rights defenders, EPIC and our members petitioned to ensure those gains were not lost. Congress passed legislation enacting $85.5 million for Iraqi civil society groups.
Iraq Action Days was a joint initiative by 24 national organizations working to help Iraqi families who are struggling amid violence, drought, poverty and instability. In April 2008, hundreds of concerned citizens joined us in Washington, DC, for a National Iraq Forum with United Nations and government officials, human rights advocates, aid workers, and leading experts from Iraq and the region.
FACES of Iraq Photo Exhibition
FACES of Iraq tells the stories of the Iraqi people who, by accident of geography, are coping with unimaginable hardships brought on by years of war and political oppression. This traveling photo exhibit is composed of fifty color and black-and-white prints, showcasing the work of nine photographers. The images capture the struggles and triumphs of Iraqi families caught up in extraordinary circumstances. The FACES of Iraq exhibit is a unique and powerful way to connect the American public to the people and experiences of Iraq.