Why we’re going into Iraq

Post Summary: 

1.8 million children, mothers, and fathers have been internally displaced because of the conflict in Iraq. World Vision has recently begun relief operations to help them.

"We are going into Iraq," writes Rich Stearns, president of World Vision U. S. "Difficult, challenging, and risky as it might be."

Why? Read more to find out.

***

This month, World Vision is starting relief operations in northern Iraq. It will be the second country this year in which we have restarted or begun new operations following a crisis.

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    Opening our hearts to the little children

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    Reflecting on the humanitarian crisis of vulnerable children along the U. S. border, Rich Stearns – president of World Vision U.S. – writes that, following Jesus, "the best solutions come from a compassionate heart."

    ***

    “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” –Matthew 19:13-14 (NIV)

    When I read the Gospels, I’m often quick to wonder how the disciples so often got things wrong. Like the time that little children were brought to Jesus for him to lay his hands on them. The disciples heartlessly drove the children away.

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      Children suffer most in South Sudan

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      As conflict ravages South Sudan, the nation’s children are bearing the brunt of the crisis: separated from their families, hungry and malnourished, not in school, and at risk of abuse and exploitation.

      Michael Arunga, World Vision emergency communications advisor for Africa, looks back at the brief history of South Sudan and reflects on how this new nation came to its current situation.

      ***

      The ghosts that struck Kenya after the 2007 elections are back. This time, they’ve swarmed the world’s newest nation of South Sudan. Worst hit are children. Reports indicate that more than half of the 1.1 million people displaced in-country, and another 386,800 who fled as refugees, are children!

      The prognosis of South Sudan is a replica of what transpired in Kenya: killings, sexual violations, burned houses, plundering, refugee camps, and child-led households.

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        World Vision brings children together

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        For World Refugee Day today, we're highlighting our Child-Friendly Spaces, which are helping Syrian refugee children play and smile again after the trauma they've been through.

        Read about a small building tucked into a back street in downtown Irbid, Jordan, where World Vision is helping to bridge the gap between Syrian refugee children and vulnerable kids in Jordan.

        ***

        It’s a sunny Monday morning in the northern Jordanian city of Irbid, located just 15 kilometers from the Syrian border. At a community center in the downtown core, a group of children are drawing maps that feature scenes of their neighborhood, while in another room, younger children delight in playing with toys and putting magnetic letters up onto a small blackboard under the watchful eye of a social worker.

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          The red leather shoes

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          As fighting continues in South Sudan, the debris of people in flight litters the ground: suitcases, a television…a child's red leather shoes.

          When families flee, children can become separated, putting them at risk of exploitation and abuse.

          Read this startling testimony about what's happening and how World Vision is working to help.

          ***

          I only catch a glimpse of them as we hurtle along the dusty road. Armed men are everywhere. Stopping for a better look is too dangerous.

          They are red leather shoes with little straps and tiny silver buckles, slightly scuffed at the toes. Judging by the size, they belonged to a child no older than 4 or 5. Surreally, they sit neatly side by side, almost as if put away on an imaginary shelf.

          A little further along, a single adult trainer lies sideways in a ditch. 

          Just past that, I spot two gray plastic suitcases. They are open but empty, the contents stolen.

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            A mother’s love

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            Last Wednesday, author Dale Hanson Bourke visited World Vision's education programs for Syrian refugee children in Jordan.

            Read about Zaid, the boy she met who is working hard to overcome the challenges he faces as a refugee, and the special way she connected with Zaid's mother.

            ***

            He looks like the other adolescent boys in the classroom, joking one minute, competing to be the first with the answer the next. The only thing unusual about Zaid is the hat he wears even inside.

            In the town of Irbid, Jordan, the young teen, Zaid, is just one of many newcomers. He’s only been in here for a month but is already popular with his classmates and has a role in the play they will perform in a few weeks. “He’s a very good actor and a strong student,” says Layla Sakaji (“Sister Layla”), director of the program.  

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              Azraq: A new home for Syrian refugees

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              World Vision has been a key player in developing the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan, which later this week will begin housing up to 100,000 Syrian refugees. Clean water, sanitation facilities, schools, playgrounds, a supermarket and a hospital – a new, temporary home until, God willing, they can return to their real home.

              ***

              From a distance, it looks like a white smudge on the horizon.

              Azraq Refugee Camp first came into my view four or five kilometers from its main entrance. Off in the distance, against the harsh brown scrub of the Jordanian desert, I saw hundreds upon hundreds of small, white shelters lined up in straight rows, waiting to provide protection from the hot sun and the elements for thousands of refugees who have fled the conflict in Syria.

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                Rwanda 20 years: Why I was afraid

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                Seven years ago, staff writer Kari Costanza visited Rwanda for the first time. She was able to replace her fear about the trip because of stories like Zaphran’s.

                World Vision’s early work in Rwanda immediately following the genocide focused on peace-building, livelihood training, water and sanitation, agriculture, education, and health issues like malaria and maternal and child health.

                Read how these programs helped reconstruct a new orphan’s world … and her sense of family.

                ***

                Going to Rwanda for the first time made me nervous. Really nervous. I’d read a lot of books about the genocide. I’d watched Hotel Rwanda and nearly come undone. I dreamed of machetes.

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                  The children of Syria speak as year four begins

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                  As we mark the three-year anniversary of the Syrian refugee crisis today, the children of Syria speak out together, making an urgent plea to the world to listen. To help. Stand with World Vision in helping to prevent a lost generation of Syrian children.

                  Read more about this report written by children to the world.

                  ***

                  Imagine that you’re taking an extended camping trip — you know that day when you suddenly feel like going back home? Taking a real shower again? Baking something in the oven or going out for dinner?

                  Now imagine that you’ve felt like that for three years.

                  Today, the conflict in Syria and corresponding refugee crisis in neighboring countries officially enters its fourth year.

                  Each year gets worse. Much worse.

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                    A hope to sustain us

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                    “Where there is breath, there is hope,” Meg Sattler writes today from Jordan about the children of Syria and their stories and voices crying out to be heard.

                    Will you listen?

                    ***

                    “And the course of the Syrian conflict is currently demonstrating the utility of mass atrocities and the relative indifference of the rest of the world.” – Michael Gerson, Washington Post.

                    I started working on the Syrian conflict response last August. I flew from Melbourne, Australia, and landed amid a crisis that I didn’t think could get any worse. My previous work in Pakistan had exposed me to conflict, but it wasn’t like this.

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