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Timeline: The History of Iraq

“A Tour of Iraq’s Ancient Sites”

Iraq’s past spans the breadth of history, giving rise to a unique  culture and multiplicity of beliefs.  From ancient Mesopotamia, Iraq is has been a major contributor to world civilization.  It is the starting point of countless prophets, including Abraham, revered by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. From writing, accounting, science, art, culture and myriad religious influences and belief systems, Iraq is not merely the patrimony of one l nation but that of much of the modern world.

Today, Iraq’s religious differences, ethnic tension, and sectarian violence seem to overpower our popular conscience when trying to understand Iraq’s diversity.  Iraq has been an ethnically diverse country for millennia, with Kurds, Assyrians, and Turkmen representing the three largest non-Arab minorities in the country. It is also the home of many religions: while Islam is the religion of the majority, Christianity, Judaism, Mandeanism, found an even earlier home in Iraq.   Each group has a unique heritage and connection to Iraq.  There’s a multitude of religious sites across Iraq that attest to Iraq’s diversity and significance as a center of religious and ethnic diversity.

Iraq is naturally of great importance to the Muslim world and is home to many significant religious sites, such as r the Al ‘Askari and the Al-‘Abbas Mosques in Samarra and the Gailani Mosque in Baghdad. But from its extreme north to its extreme south, every region of Iraq harbors historical sites revered by other religions: Christians, jews, Yezidis, and others. Nenawa province abound in early Christian churches, and a Christian church dating to the 5th century CE has been found near the Shi’a ciry of Kerbala. Some religious are venerated by more than one religious group. For example, Al-Kufl in the province of Babil is both a Jewish and a Muslim historic site. The tomb of the prophet Younes (Jonas) in Mosul is visited by Christians, Muslims, and Jews faiths.  Many of Iraq’s minority faiths can also trace their origins to locations in Iraq. The holiest Yazidi shrine, for example, is that of Sheikh Adi, located at the necropolis of Lalish outside of Mosul.
Sadly, these groups have not enjoyed equal status with the majority Muslim population in recent years. Fanaticism and violence in the name of Islam has often been the causes of oppression of religious minorities in Iraq. Although the Iraqi constitution ensures religious freedom and bans discrimination based on religion, religious minorities have been deprived of their civic and religious rights by extremists.   The Yazidi Bombing on August 14, 2007, for example, was the most deadly car bombing attack in Iraq, killing 796 and wounding 1,562 people, according to the Red Crescent.

To highlight the diverse religious heritage that lives on in modern Iraq and build understanding between Iraq’s diverse religious and ethnic communities, the Iraq Foundation proposes an innovative project to capture Iraq’s thriving belief systems and foster understanding of Iraq’s long history as a religiously diverse community.  The Iraq Foundation will commission video documentaries that highlight religious sites in Iraq.  These documentaries will be created by groups of religiously and ethnically diverse students and youth, telling the story of Iraq’s significance to religious heritage and the many faiths and sects that call Iraq home.

 

In March, IF concluded the Empowering Iraqi Widows to Thrive (EIWT) project!

The project was implemented in four cycles at seven training centers in five provinces. The direct results of the projects were as follows:

  • 28 educational training programs and vocational training programs were implemented at seven centers in 5 locations
  • 1,112 widows trained over the course of four training cycles on citizenship and women’s rights, life skills education, including family health and well-being topics and  interpersonal skills
  • 1,112 widows developed personal goals and an action plan to achieve those goals; and 1,112 widows received vocational mentoring (832 widows over the targeted number without exceeding the project budget)  to enable them to begin generating income locally
  • 694 widows received vocational training (414 widows over the targeted number without exceeding the project budget)
  • identified 491 job opportunities
  • connected 209 widows with small grants and several other resources that provided them with the means to generate income and thus become economically self-sufficient

IF requested a no-cost extension for the project, from October 1, 2012 through February 28, 2013.  IF request was approved by the Funder on September 26, 2012.

As a direct result of the no-cost extension:

  • 50 widows received marketing training to craft sustainable strategies for their businesses
  • 15 widows received tailored coaching to access loans and help their businesses succeed
  • 25 widows received mini grants to start their own businesses
  • 15 widows received assistant in accessing job banks and increasing their visibility with private employment agencies

IF started a follow-up plan with EIWT grantees and widows who received loans. IF staff and partner NGOs conducted three visits per widow, distributing surveys while trying to measure success.

Widows in Maysan:

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Widows in Baghdad:

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IF grantee-EIWT widow Iqbal Jasim – Risafa Center-Baghdad
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IF grantee-EIWT widow Majida Kadhum Mohammed–Risafa Center-Baghdad
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IF grantee-EIWT widow Zahra Abbas Ma’ala – Risafa Center-Baghdad
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IF grantee-EIWT widow Wijdan Qasim – Risafa Center-Baghdad
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IF grantee-EIWT widow Wafaa Sabah – Risafa Center-Baghdad
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IF grantee-EIWT widow Iqbal Raihan – Karkh Center-Baghdad

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IF grantee-EIWT widow Fatima Abbas – Karkh Center-Baghdad
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IF grantee-EIWT widow Sundis Najim – Karkh Center-Baghdad
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IF grantee-EIWT widow Karima Abdul Karim – Karkh Center-Baghdad
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IF grantee-EIWT widow Nahla Salman Abbas – Karkh Center-Baghdad

IF awarded 25 mini-grants to selected widows to launch their micro businesses in Baghdad, Maysan and Basra.

Dr. Sadoon Chithir, Marketing experts, and Baghdad University helped 50 widows looking for income generating opportunities as part of the project activities, to craft sustainability strategies that enabled them to access loans and support their businesses’ long-term success.

IF is also pleased to report that IF EIWT staff and partner NGOs connected 3 more widows with small grants and several other resources,  which provided them with the means to generate income and thus become economically self-sufficient. Widows used these grants to establish small businesses based out of their homes, aimed at providing services for their community. They join 206 other widows from previous EIWT cycles who also benefited from EIWT’s vocational and entrepreneurial training.

IF in collaboration with Women for supporting Women Association (WSW) in Baghdad followed up with EIWT widow Madina Hussien, who started a housekeeping job at Sama Al Khaleej.  She is making ID 400,000 ($340)/month.

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Madina Jasim, EIWT widow, started a housekeeping job in a private company

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Dr. Saadon Chithir, Marketing expert, meeting with EIWT widows in Basra

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IF grantees – EIWT project- Maysan

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Dr. Saadon Chithir, marketing expert, meeting EIWT widows in Maysan

EIWT widows, Siham Mutair, Bnjat Mutashar and Majida Kadhum, discussing their loan terms of ID1,000,000($850) each to develop their own businesses.

EIWT widow Forqan Kadhum receiving Red Cross grants to start her sewing project out of her home.

IF in cooperation with our partner, Women for Supporting Women Association, held mentoring session for the widows with successful businesswomen.

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IF in cooperation with our partner, Women for Supporting Women Association, met with Ms. Majida Hijazi, director of a local employment agency. Following a briefing on the project objectives and achievements, Ms. Hijazi offered her services pro bono.

IF and partner NGOs held meetings between the selected widows and Dr. Sadoon Chithir in Baghdad, Basra and Maysan

IF, in collaboration with Women Association, was able to find two job opportunities for EIWT widows Jinan Othman and Eman Jubur to work as administrative  assistants  in Maysan Martyr Association and Family Welfare department in Maysan consecutively.

Special Honors and Awards: IF would like to congratulate our partner organization, Women for Supporting Women Association, for receiving recognition from the civil society committee of the Iraqi Council of Representatives (COR) for their hard work and dedication.

Vetting Procedures for Participants: Ibtisam Al Shamary, Director, Women for supporting Women Association (partner NGO) along with Ms. Wissal Ghazi and IF staff members initiated vetting processes for the widows in the Baghdad centers including distributing and analysis of surveys. Siham Al Uqaily, Director, Women Association (partner NGO) started the vetting processes for the widows in Maysan centers.

Meetings & Trainings: This month, IF staff in Baghdad and Basra held an EIWT team meeting at the Baghdad headquarers. Staff members met with partner NGOs in Baghdad and Maysan and Dr. Saadon Chithir, marketing, expert to put together a work plan for implementing the EIWT No cost activities.

IF’s partner organization, Women for Supporting Women Association, held a meeting to allow the marketing expert to meet with the widows in both Baghdad centers, Rusafa & Karkh. Dr. Chithir met with the widows to help them understand market conditions, design a marketing strategy specifically designed to fit their particular type of business, and provide other tools and information.

IF in cooperation with the partner organization, Women for Supporting Women Association, met with Mr. Naseer Naji Hamdan, Director General, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs as part of our efforts to locate loans, grants and job opportunities for participants.

IF in cooperation with our partner, Women for Supporting Women Association, met with Mr. Hisham Al Kenani, director of a local employment agency. Following a briefing on the project objectives and achievements, Mr. Al Kenani offered his services pro bono.

Selected Photos:

Special Honors & Awards

Women for Supporting Women Association receives an award from Civil Society Committee of the COR

Vetting Procedures

Surveys were distributed and analyzed as part of new vetting procedures instituted for participants in Baghdad

Siham Al Uqaily, Director of Women Association, started vetting procedures for participants in Maysan

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Meetings & Trainings

IF staff holds EIWT team meeting at headquarters in Baghdad

Marketing session for EIWT”s widows in Risafa center, Baghdad

Marketing session for EIWT”s widows in Karkh center, Baghdad

Women for Supporting Women Association meets with head of local employment agency

On September 29, 2012, the graduation ceremony was conducted in Al Alwya’a club. Among the attendees were Ms. Eman Al Barzenchi, Head, Women and Childhood committee, Baghdad Provincial Council, Ms. Azhar Al Samarrai, Former COR Member and members from the International Organization as well as civil society activists. This ceremony was well covered by satellite and local channels, which conducted interviews with NGO members, widows and officials. They all expressed their appreciation to IF for all the effort for the widows and encouraged IF to continue the great work. IF would like also to express our gratitude to the Zain Telecommunication Company for hosting the event and donating 75 professional sewing machines for the widows to start generating income for their households. In return, the widows presented symbolic gifts to the company to show their appreciation for the company.

On September 5, the graduation ceremony for EIWT widows from the third and fourth cycle was conducted in Haj Fadhil Casino.  Among the attendees were Ms. Natika Namir, Head, Women and Childhood committee, Basra Provincial Council, Ms. Zahra Al Bajari, Member, Women and Childhood committee, Basra Provincial Council, Mr. Ja’afar Mohammed, Head, Religious Affairs committee, Basra Provincial Council, and Mr. Muhsin Abdul Hay, Representative, Basra Governorate and members from the local government, international organizations as well as civil Society activists.  This ceremony was well covered by satellite and local channels which conducted interviews with the NGO members, widows and the officials. IF staff through generous donors was able to deliver over 160 professional sewing machine for the widows. All attendees expressed their gratefulness to IF for all the effort for the widows and encouraged IF to continue the great work.

Selected Photos:

Baghdad Graduation Ceremony

Basra Graduation Ceremony

On August 16, IF staff invited Mr. Kareem Al Alyan, Head, Justice and Advancement trend to discuss possible employment opportunities for the widows as well as possible host for the widows’ graduation ceremony.

On July 3, 2012, IF completed the extension for the Karkh center at Risala district council. 17 widows graduated.

On July 2, 2012, IF completed the extension for the Risafa center at Women and the Future NGO. 14 widows graduated from this center.

On July 27, 2012, Zain telecommunication company distributed gifts to EIWT widows in response to IF staff outreach to the private sector seeking opportunities for the widows.

Success stories: Eight widows in Basra received Red Cross grants to start small businesses out of their homes. IF assisted in the establishment of these businesses through direct consultation with the widows on their interests and the needs of the market. Grantees included the following widows:

  • Hala Subhi, Al Hwair Center, first cycle
  • Zainab Zaki, Al Zubair center, fourth cycle
  • Hamida Majeed Nasir, Al Zubair center, fourth cycle
  • Samira Razaq, Al Zubair center, fourth cycle
  • Khadija Mohammed, Al Zubair center, fourth cycle
  • Safia Baket, Al Zubair center, fourth cycle
  • Zanuba Salih, Al Qurna center, fourth cycle
  • Amera Jawal, Al Qurna center, fourth cycle

Selected Photos from Activities:

Educational training – Baghdad, center- extension

Vocational training – Baghdad, center- extension

Vocational training – Baghdad, center- extension

Vocational training – Baghdad, center- extension

Vocational training on handicrafts

Zain telecommunication company gifts to EIWT widows