Projects in Iraq
EPIC has a constant presence in Iraq, with advisors, local partners, and board members engaged on the ground in various capacities. One of our core focuses is supporting local programs that empower youth. In conjunction with local partners, and with the Iraqi youth themselves, we fund, structure, and execute projects that have a tangible impact on young lives. As part of our projects in the field,, we gather key insights and bring them back to academic, non-profit, and governmental bodies outside of Iraq to coordinate our research with them.
EPIC’s flagship project in environmental education in Iraq was the Iraqi Youth Hike. We are proud to have partnered with Nature Iraq and Metrography, two trailblazing organizations in Iraqi civil society today. We took nine youths from the city of Kirkuk on a five-day hike that included camera training and exciting lectures from local biologists. Beyond the overt goal of learning about nature, the program was intended to promote increased civic responsibility in protecting Iraq’s natural splendor, as well as a sense of unity that transcends ethnic or religious lines, and provide a diversion from the narrative of violence and conflict. Participants described the atmosphere as having “no discrimination or political issues” and “peaceful”.
Please read more about the Iraqi Youth Hike here!
This program is set to continue with a second Youth Hike focusing on the elusive Iraqi leopard. Hundreds of years ago leopards and other big cats roamed Iraq. Today, those populations have dwindled because of environmental degradation. Through outdoor education youth will learn environmental stewardship while practicing public speaking and communication skills as they present findings about the leopard in their communities.
Youth Empowerment is an extremely important issue in Iraq. These young people have survived years of conflict, but they also bring hope for a better future. EPIC is committed to helping them realize their full potential. We are empowering youth for peace in Iraq.
EPIC recently completed a crowdfunding campaign for our latest project, PHOTOVOICE IRAQ: Picturing Change, which will begin in early 2013. By creating space for self-expression, EPIC hopes to inspire confidence, communicative ability, and creative problem-solving in future generations of young Iraqis. We believe these traits are key to addressing the complex issues that face Iraq. We have already begun the process of planning logistics and recruiting mentors in Iraq. By March, the young people who are ultimately selected to participate will begin work, using the power of photography and the written word to capture their unique perspectives. Check back for to this page and to our blog http://www.epic-usa.org/blog/ for updates as we complete this project’s development and bring Photovoice to Iraq.
EPIC will continue to develop partnerships with local Iraqi organizations and institutions to produce and carry out youth projects on issues that include 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 connect young people from both rural and urban areas in southern, central, and northern Iraq.