Helping War-Affected Children in Iraq

Millions of children in Iraq have suffered incomprehensible loss and trauma in the decades of conflict. An alarming number of these children have lost parents and are living on the streets. According to a recent survey reported by the BBC: “between 800,000 to a million Iraqi children have lost one or both of their parents.

Iraq’s former Minister of Human Rights Wijdan Salem Mikhail explains, “The phenomenon of orphans “is one of the most passive things that grew immensely during the past few years due to destructive wars and unbridled violence in the country.”

Despite the scale and urgency of the need, there are only a handful of organizations paying attention to the silent plight of Iraq’s war-traumatized children. The Sponsor Iraqi Children Foundation (SICF) is one of those organizations.

This week I had the honor of talking with Cindy Folgleman of the Sponsor Iraqi Children Foundation, as the latest installment in our series Partners for Change. Cindy is one of SICF’s full-time volunteer and most passionate advocates. Please take a few minutes to watch my conversation with Cindy:

SICF believes in bringing a “Surge of Love” to the millions of children who were orphaned or traumatized by violence in Iraq. There are only 200 mental-health providers for the millions of children affected by trauma. For Iraq’s population of 30 million, this is a ratio of 1/150,000 compared to the desired 1/10,000 ratio in the US.   As Cindy explains, SICF does this through a few different methods. The Foundation helps bring valuable training and capacity building to Iraq’s non-governmental organizations; particularly those organizations focused on helping children and youth. SICF works with Children’s Village of New York to bring valuable skills and knowledge to the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi Street Kids Center in Baghdad funded by SICF is a testament to the Foundation’s work. In 2010 the Center closed leaving many children without necessary resources.  SICF stepped in and re-opened the center. Through their funding the Center was able to once again provide a safe haven for children in addition to vital services.

Like EPIC, SCIF is also involved in important advocacy and awareness work to help garner international support for the young people of Iraq. As Cindy explains, “There are a lot of political issues in Iraq that we can’t address, but these kids deserve better.”

One important ideology especially binds EPIC and SICF.  We both believe in love, peace, and understanding being necessities for the future of Iraqi young people.  Cindy explains how the United States and Americans needs to be part of this mission.  “This needs to be our legacy, not war, but love.”

Read more about SICF’s mission in this op-ed by Jonathan Webb, the foundation’s vice president. SICF is in the midst of a fundraising campaign where you can directly see the impact of your donation has for young people in Iraq.  Consider donating to their inspiring projects this holiday season.

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