As has been highlighted several times, we at EPIC have a great relationship with the Sponsor Iraqi Children Foundation, another non-profit based here in the Washington area. Last fall, we interviewed SCIF volunteer Cindy Fogleman about her organization’s work in Iraq, as well as highlighted their future goals in the country. During that interview, we learned how SICF recently teamed up with The Children’s Village, a New York based non-profit that works with vulnerable children. Together, the two organizations went to Baghdad to train leaders of orphan care facilities as well as Iraqi community groups that help orphans and street children.
With estimates of the number of Iraqi orphans running from a conservative 800,000 to a liberal 5 million, the need to aid children who have suffered traumatic experiences is tremendous. However, with only .05 psychiatrists per 100,000 people in Iraq, addressing this need is a serious challenge.
During their time in Baghdad, representatives from SICF and The Children’s Village discovered a special center specifically geared towards helping orphans and street kids. This center focuses on ensuring that the children who frequent its halls have healthy meals and tutoring for school, as well as community education classes with classes like personal hygiene, fine arts, and first aid.
Another compelling aspect of this center is that it is run by a local Iraqi NGO rather than by the international community. However, without the assistance of international groups such as SICF and The Children’s Village, the Iraqi NGO would not have the support—financial or otherwise—to support these children. Unfortunately, as international interest in Iraq has diminished in recent years, the center has lost significant funding and was nearly force to close their doors until SICF and The Children’s Village discovered it. Since SICF added their support to the center in 2011, more than 90 children, who would otherwise be on the streets, have been aided.
As the center for orphans and street kids in Baghdad grows, it is the hope of Cindy and the rest of the SICF staff to open similar centers in other cities across Iraq. We here at EPIC are proud to partner with SICF, and are excited to bring you updates on their great work with this center, with Iraqi NGOs and experts, and with us.