Iraq’s civil society has assumed a critical role in filling the service provision and local organizational void created by inefficiency and corruption within the country’s political establishment. Today, these civil society organizations are vibrant, diverse, and competently-led after a decade of growth and international support. However, many still lack capacity and expertise, due in part to the significant “brain drain” Iraq has experienced over the past 25 years.
In partnership with Professionals for a Better Iraq (PBI) and with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, EPIC connects Iraqi civil society organizations with skilled members of the country’s vast diaspora by developing a database of Iraqis in the United States willing to share their resources with in-country organizations. Iraq’s multi-generational diaspora represents a vast, yet largely untapped reservoir of talent that we mobilize to build civil society capacity at a critical moment in Iraqi political and social development. Such an effort showcases the involvement of the Iraqi diaspora in the country’s present and future, and facilitates increased exchange between Iraqis at home and abroad.
If you are a member of the Iraqi-American diaspora in the United States and are interested in volunteering your time and talent for Iraq’s development, please:
- To develop a database of skilled members of the Iraqi diaspora in the United States interested in sharing their skills and resources with civil society organizations in Iraq;
- To build the capacity of Iraqi civil society by facilitating exchanges between these organizations and skilled members of the diaspora; and
- To showcase the involvement of the Iraqi diaspora in Iraq’s present and future development, thereby encouraging more members of the diaspora to take part in strengthening their homeland’s democracy.
- Establish an Advisory Committee of diaspora members to assist in project oversight
- Recruit and onboard a Program Assistant to manage the project day-to-day
- Develop a database of skilled members of the Iraqi diaspora in the United States
- Identify civil society organizations in Iraq receptive to and in-need of Iraqi diaspora participation
- Conduct facilitated exchanges with identified organizations
- Hold bi-monthly conferences/forums in Washington, DC to showcase diaspora participation
- Periodically update members and the public of the project’s activities
- Monitor progress and plan for the project’s future
- The most important identifier of progress is not the quantity of members of the Iraqi diaspora included in our database of prospective volunteers, but rather the quality of each member’s commitment to transfer their skills to civil society organizations in Iraq, the frequency with which they are willing to do so, and the diversity of the database (both in terms of skillsets and demographics).
- Civil society organizations interested in and in-need of facilitated exchanges with skilled members of the Iraqi diaspora will conduct baseline self-assessments prior to those exchanges. The program assistant will use that baseline self-assessment to ascertain organizational needs, and will follow-up after each exchange to determine whether those needs have been met. Thirty to sixty days after an exchange, the program assistant will follow-up again with a brief questionnaire to determine whether organizational capacity has been positively impacted by the exchange.
- The program assistant will also follow-up with diaspora volunteers after exchanges have taken place to determine the quality of the volunteer’s experience. This information will be used, in part, in deciding with which civil society organizations to continue to engage.
EPIC is committed to ensuring a safe and prosperous Iraq for all generations. We hope that you will join us in this effort!
For more background information about the Connections Initiative, click here.