From News Release, August 12, 2015:   Violence in Iraq has displaced at least 3 million people, 50 percent of which have fled to the Kurdish-controlled areas in the north of Iraq, where the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working. ADRA is the humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

For more than six months, ADRA has been operating in Baharka Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp providing services to families who have fled fighting in Iraq. ADRA’s programs focus on informal education, protection and restoring livelihoods for the most vulnerable families in the camp.

Children participate in ADRA’s informal education program by drawing pictures at Baharka IDP Camp. Credit: ADRA International

Children participate in ADRA’s informal education program by drawing pictures at Baharka IDP Camp. Credit: ADRA International

Through ADRA’s programs, volunteer teachers are providing informal education to small children with materials from UNICEF, while following guiding principles established by the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq.

“During the school holidays and the fasting month, ADRA is the only nongovernmental organization focusing on providing informal education to children ages 4-5 in the Baharka IDP Camp at this time,” said Leyn Gantare, ADRA country director in Kurdistan.

The agency is also providing one nutritious meal to each child in attendance and organizing recreational activities for 400 children. Children’s recreational activities include sporting events, drawing competitions, music and games.

“These kinds of activities allow children to express themselves and stay socially connected with other children,” said Gantare. “Our activities are especially targeting girls and children with disabilities.”

Baharka IDP Camp in Kurdistan. Credit: ADRA International

Baharka IDP Camp in Kurdistan. Credit: ADRA International

ADRA partner UNICEF is providing tents for education and child-friendly spaces that will allow children to spend their time in constructive and safe ways.

To increase the resilience of the displaced population, ADRA is offering small grants that will enable families to start their own small businesses. ADRA community mobilizers and social counselors are following-up regularly with the business owners as well as providing training in cash and business management. Additionally, the agency has been providing Kurdish lessons to help adults and children integrate with the local communities.

ADRA programs in Kurdistan also include awareness campaigns to both displaced Iraqis and the host Kurdish community about hygiene, the dangers of child marriage, children’s education, good community relations and cooperation, and inclusion of persons with disabilities.