What We Want You to Know About Our Work in Syria and How We Talk About It

Over a year ago, we set foot in Syria for the first time, hearts broken by the years-long conflict happening just over the border from us, determined to respond. Then last September, you took the next step with us as we completed our first emergency distribution inside Syria, feeding 650 families near Aleppo.  

Grow the Sisterhood

Photo by Christine Anderson

We often draw the lines that separate “us” and “them” based on who is like us and who is not. But what if we intentionally redrew those lines? Not by erasing differences, but by deciding that our differences are precisely what make us, well, “us.”

Painting New Life in East Mosul After ISIS

ISIS graffiti in Mosul

New York Times journalist Rukmini Callimachi shared a series of powerful tweets from her recent visit to east Mosul. The eastern side of the city was liberated in January. But signs of ISIS rule—and the death it brought—still remain. One painter is taking it upon himself to do something about that, replacing ISIS graffiti with messages of hope.

How You Fit Into the Mosaic of Empowerment

As we enter into a new season of growth and rebirth, and watch the earth reemerge from the wrath of winter, it’s only natural to let our minds drift to the rebuilding we've seen, the rebuilding you have made possible here in Iraq and Syria.

''How Could I Forget You? I Wear You on My Hand.''

“How could I forget you? I wear you on my hand.”

Erin, one of our field staff, was out visiting a group of Yazidi refugee friends yesterday. One thing led to another, and the next thing she knows, one of the women is needling a homemade ink mixture into her knuckles—giving her a permanent tattoo—as one does on a casual visit with friends.

Unsung Heroes—Honoring Our Fallen Iraqi Colleagues

It’s the news we dread waking up to: two of our friends and colleagues who’ve served on some of our aid missions in Mosul were killed by ISIS snipers.

They were pretty young, seemingly invincible. The booms and pops that sounded just a few blocks away from where they served may as well have been miles away, fireworks to celebrate a nearly-free Mosul. And how could the war reach them when they were there serving their people? They were just men, doing their part to make sure friends and neighbors had the food they needed after surviving ISIS. Yes, the best was yet to come. Bright futures were ahead.

Stay Awake to Syria's Pain

When my children woke up this morning—our toddler bellowing for freedom from her crib, the older three wandering into the kitchen with sticky-up-hair and sleepy eyes—I wanted to hug them too tight because some part of my soul was howling:

What if it was you? What if it was you in a clinic in Syria, foaming at the mouth, weeping with pain? 

Tomahawks or Toddlers? We Must Not Lose Sight of the Children in Syria

Yesterday morning, everyone was talking about the children of Syria who were killed in Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack. Today, everyone is talking about missiles.

Syria: Don't Settle for a Simple Narrative

The stories out of Syria this week are heartbreaking. Every image of an injured, dead, or traumatized child feels like a kick to the gut.

When innocents suffer, it’s natural to respond with outrage, to point fingers and demand justice. And we should demand justice.  

But that’s not easy in the Syrian crisis because the good guy/bad guy narrative doesn’t work here.

Syria Chemical Attack: While the World Argues, You Respond

A child receives treatment after Tuesday's chemical attack in Syria (source: Facebook)

Yesterday, news broke about a chemical attack in Syria, in a city near the Turkish border. The world has rightfully responded with heartbreak and outrage.

But while the rest of the world analyzes the attack itself and discusses who-did-what, you’re doing what you do best: taking action, loving people, and meeting as many needs as possible.

Syria Chemical Attack: Children Are Dying. We’re Responding.

This morning, as many as 100 people were killed in an alleged chemical attack in the Idlib province of Syria, southwest of Aleppo. Many of the dead are children.

West Mosul: Your Love Reached 8,000 People Amid ISIS Sniper Fire

One thousand families. 

Thanks to you, that’s how many families in west Mosul received a month’s worth a food on Sunday. That's somewhere between five and eight thousand people.

And yet when we left, there were still thousands more left empty-handed, swarming around our vehicles, begging for food.

A Sneak Peek at Your Latest Heart-Mending Work in Iraq

A couple of weeks ago, you sent a team of cardiac surgeons and specialists to the historic Iraqi city of Karbala.

Since their arrival, the team has been hard at work—performing heart surgeries and training local doctors to do complex cardiac procedures so that hearts can be healed long after they fly home.

The Cause of the Recent US Airstrike in Mosul is Even More Complicated Than You Think

The current fighting in Mosul is likely to be the last large-scale battle against ISIS in Iraq. In recent weeks, the battle has not gone as it should, leading to a spike in civilian casualties. Several factors may have contributed to this, including the fact that ISIS is trapped in Mosul due to conflicting military goals among key stakeholders, the withdrawal of the elite counterterrorism forces who achieved so much in east Mosul, the American desire for a quick victory over ISIS, and more.

One Mosul Family’s Story: Caught in the Crossfire of ISIS Snipers and Coalition Rocket Attacks

On the day that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that the pro-government forces would begin to move into west Mosul, in their attempts to push ISIS out of the city, Abu Maad* took shelter in the basement of his house.

Children Who Need Heart Surgery Are Making a New Kind of Pilgrimage to the Ancient City of Karbala

Sunset in Karbala (photo by ن.عامری / CC BY-SA 4.0)

So this is how it ends?

He stopped at a tree, lowered himself until he rested on the scorched earth, and leaned back against the trunk. Blood soaked through his clothes, and his breath was ragged. These long hours of battle were the most brutal experience he had ever faced.

For These Doctors, the Frontlines Are in Operating Rooms and Clinics

Right now, Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Mohammad are in an operating room in Iraq, preparing a little girl named Adyan for heart surgery. The room, impeccably clean, is buzzing with activity. Local doctors are working alongside our international team of pediatric heart specialists, all doing their work with one goal in mind—saving the life of this girl.

We Cannot Bomb Our Way to Peace in Mosul

The other day, news broke that up to 200 people were killed in a U.S. airstrike in west Mosul.

This was not an isolated incident. There have been over 800 alleged civilian deaths from U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq this month alone.

The people of west Mosul are trapped in the middle of a war in which their humanity seems to count for very little.

ISIS Was Seconds Away From Executing Him: Mohammad's Incredible Story of Escape

“I just came from death! I just came from death!”

He’d grabbed one of us by the arm and was practically shouting between deep breaths—not something you expect to hear from someone, especially a random stranger.

Why We're Rebuilding Mosul Before the War Is Even Over...

Intense battles to liberate Mosul from ISIS control have taken a massive toll on the city, in every possible way. That’s why we are starting to rebuild the city and its infrastructure—renovating, stocking, and staffing medical clinics in east Mosul and undertaking a massive project to restore the city’s water system.

But the battle for Mosul is far from over. So, why are we rebuilding a city that is still at war?

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