Daycare in the Middle of a Warzone

Parents, what is the best thing about raising children?

You might say it’s the unconditional love, the reward of knowing you’re bringing hope-filled life into a dark and dreary ward, or the joy you get from nurturing a strong and caring family.

Yeah, that’s all wrong.

Food, Water, Medicine: This Is What a Month's Worth of Your Love Looks Like in Mosul

It didn’t make the news often, but the battle for Mosul continued last month. And your love kept showing up on the frontlines—again and again—for those whose lives have been ravaged by conflict. We listened as victims of war told us about their needs. Then we worked with a coalition of local staff, friends, and partners to meet them.

What If There’s Another Chemical Attack? Preparing Families in Syria for the Unthinkable

Do you know how to recognize a chemical attack or the best way to respond if one occurs?

Unfortunately, neither do people in Syria. Because until a month ago, most of them had as much experience with chemical attacks as you do.

The Unspoken Heartbreak of Motherhood

She sits beside her daughter’s bed, a quiet presence. Asma, her daughter, looks so beautiful lying in her bed after heart surgery, tucked up under a pink blanket and hair smoothed back into neat pigtails. For days now, Asma’s mom has come to see her every few hours. The nurse makes sure there is a chair for her to sit—she is older, and it’s hard for her to stand for long visits.

It looks like Asma is sleeping, but the truth is a little more complicated. Like the other children in the ICU, she had a complicated heart defect that could only be fixed with surgery. Unlike the other children in the ICU… Asma hasn’t woken up yet.

A Refugee Camp Called “Dream City” Is Finally Living up to its Name, Thanks to These Doctors

Dream City is a strange name for a displacement camp. Then again, this unfinished residential complex, located in the heart of Iraq, was never meant to house refugees. Thousands of families took shelter here last year, as the battle against ISIS moved north toward Mosul, and they haven’t been able to return home yet.

The medical needs of these Dream City families are unrelenting.

What Jimmy Kimmel's Son Shares in Common With These Iraqi Kids

“If your baby is going to die and doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.”

In a tearful monologue Monday night, late show host Jimmy Kimmel revealed that his son was born with a life-threatening heart defect last week—the same defect we see in many of the kids we care for here in Iraq.

The Greatest Threat to Survival in Refugee Camps

For families fleeing conflict, the greatest threat to survival—once they have reached the safe harbor of a refugee camp and have access to food and water—is the lack of medical care. 

She Was Expected to Get Married and Stay Home. War Changed Everything.

“I’d like to show you my work…”

Hiyam was standing quietly beside us, patiently waiting for an opening in the conversation. Her phone at the ready, she quickly swiped through photos, showing us candles that she made at home to sell to neighbors.

She smiled and ducked her head a little in modesty as we “oooed” and “aahed” over her creations, but Hiyam was clearly proud of her work. As she should be.

Hiyam is a talented craftsperson. She is also one of the most steadfast women we know.

Responding to Mom-Guilt by Living with Dignity

The day that Zainab’s son walked through the door with new soccer shoes, a wave of guilt tore through her heart. He had been asking for new shoes, but Zainab and her husband had no money. They were drowning in debt. There was so little work for her husband in the refugee camp for displaced Syrians, they couldn’t even feed their family with what he earned.

You're Showing Up in the Wake of Chemical Attacks - An Update from Syria

Three weeks ago, the world was stunned by another chemical attack in Syria. But you refused to just stand by and watch. In the midst of your heartbreak, you leaped into action. Right now, thanks to you, families in Syria are getting the help they need to put their lives back together, even as war still rages around them.

When we asked what people needed in the wake of those attacks, they asked for solutions that went beyond just meeting emergency medical needs. “Instead of merely reacting to the atrocity,” our team in Syria told us, “[we need to] holistically respond to these people’s needs right now.”

That’s what you did.

Turkish Airstrikes Hit Yazidi Homeland in Northern Iraq, Displaced Yazidis Wonder if it Will Ever Be Safe to Go Home

Yazidi family at the base of Sinjar Mountain

Turkish warplanes struck Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq this week. Sinjar is home to the Yazidi people, an ethnoreligious minority who were targeted by ISIS in 2014. Their homeland sits just over the border from Syria—the families who still live here are literally caught between two of the world’s most polarizing conflicts.

Love in the Form of Tanker Trucks - An Update from West Mosul

This week, you met another urgent need in west Mosul—providing clean water to thousands of desperate families trapped in the ongoing battle to take back the city from ISIS.

Our response in Mosul is growing and shifting as the battle progresses. We continue to deliver food packs and hygiene kits in newly liberated neighborhoods. We’re supporting medical clinics on both the eastern and western sides of the city. But water is another critical need in west Mosul right now. 

We’re Not the Answer to Other People’s Problems. They Are.

It’s one of the hardest, most important, and most rewarding lessons we’ve learned in our ten years of living and serving in the Middle East:

Real peace—lasting, sustainable change—only happens when people are able to own their future.

Motherly Love Extends Beyond Family—Lessons from Our Candlemakers

When we visited Lamia, she was sitting calmly in a chair, positioned so the stacks and stacks of candles her team had made quietly demanded to be seen behind her. We greeted her and she tilted her head in hello. Laughter relaxed her body as she introduced herself.

Her eyes were filled with the wisdom she has gleaned from raising four children—three daughters and a son—through conflict and hardship in Iraq, while also overseeing the Sisterhood candlemaking project in Baghdad.

For Khadija, Sewing Provides Moments of Peace in the Midst of Anxiety

“What do you dream about for your future, Khadija?”

“To live in peace with my children.”

Peace, safety, security—things so many of us take for granted, are lofty goals for Khadija, a mom who fled Syria to save her family.

What to do With Your Empty Candle Vessel

So, you were lucky enough to snag one of the limited number of handcrafted Sisterhood Collection candles. You brought it into your home and let its sweet fragrance dance in the air while you read or washed dishes or watched your kids play outside. It burned for hours, reminding you of the light its maker shines against the darkness of war. It served as a tangible piece of empowerment while sitting quietly on your coffee table.

Your Investment in Her Future Gives Nasrin the Luxury to Dream

From where we sit in the dark room, opposite the door so light can stream in across our faces, we can just make out a tiny, blue bird in a bamboo cage. We hear the song before we see the cage—this sweet little bird sings constantly.

“I love this bird!” Nasirin smiles as she talks about the Syrian village where she lived, their small caretaker’s house in an orchard where she and her husband worked as gardeners, and the village trees filled with birds.

This simple songbird reminds her of home.

Sisterhood Soap is more than a's a place to belong

“Hazno—she has no one.”

Being an orphan casts a long shadow in Iraq. Hazno is a grown woman, a mother with children. She married into a large family. We sit and talk in a room teeming with her husband’s family. There is so much life in this room! The other women explain how Hazno’s father died when she was young. Her mother left her to be raised by elderly grandparents so she could remarry. And now, her grandparents are gone too.

Music Inspired by Preemptive Love and Infused with Hope

Everything in you wants to fight
War won't make this right
Lay down your arms

Kellie Haddock doesn’t write music for its own sake alone. “I want to infuse people with hope,” she says, “hope that’s based on the hard and the real.”

For this Christian Community Near Mosul, Easter was Marked by Destruction and Hope

Destruction  and hope, all in one place. It’s a lot to take in.

ISIS held this place, a few minutes’ drive from Mosul, for over two years. The families who lived here are Christian—their roots go back more than 1,400 years.

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