The holiday season is a good time to reflect on what we have accomplished in 2018 thanks to the generous support of donors, partners and volunteers like you. As the Education for Peace in Iraq Center prepares to expand our in-country humanitarian work in 2019, we wanted to highlight some of what we have done in Iraq over the past year.
This year we responded to the mental health care needs of families and children recovering from years of armed conflict and persecution under ISIS. Launching EPIC’s Trauma Recovery Initiative with our award-winning partner, the Iraq Health Access Organization (IHAO), we conducted an emergency assessment of mental health care needs in Mosul, Sinjar, and the Ninewa Plains.
One person impacted by our work is Ms. Anfal al-Zoubay, Um Nye (mother of Nye).
Ms. Anfal al-Zoubay, Gender-Based Violence Program Officer, Iraqi Health Access Organization (IHAO)
As part of our Trauma Recovery Initiative, in early November, Um Nye participated in an IHAO training for medical personnel and social workers. In an intense three-day training session in Mosul, participants from across Iraq learned how to better treat patients suffering from psychological trauma, which is understandably prevalent throughout the country. Due to a severe shortage of psychiatrists in Iraq, these social workers, doctors and nurses are often times the only ones who can offer mental health support to Iraqis in need.
Um Nye is no stranger to adversity. Born in 1988, her early childhood and secondary education were interrupted by war. “I remember crying in the street. I was wearing a headscarf out of fear that violent extremists would come into my school and kill me.” By 2006, militia violence in her Baghdad neighborhood forced Um Nye and her family to flee to neighboring Syria. It was years before it was safe enough for them to return.
Knowing violence and displacement herself, Um Nye now runs a team of therapists and case managers helping women and children in Mosul, Sinjar, and Iraq’s other war-affected areas. “I know their suffering and how war can get in the way of simple things, can prevent you from doing what you love. For so many of the women we help, they simply need someone who cares.”
Um Ney with her IHAO colleagues during a visit to Baghdad
Thanks to the training made possible by EPIC donors, Um Ney deepened her knowledge of psychological trauma, paths to recovery, and ways to train and manage her team, to better identify and treat patients through therapy and other non-medical interventions. Um Nye also says this training has made her a more passionate and effective advocate for improving effective mental health care. “We have much work to do to close the gap in addressing trauma and other mental health needs in Iraq, from raising awareness to building capacity.”
In both our work in Iraq and our advocacy in Washington, we have focused on meeting the mental health care needs of communities most heavily affected by violence. As Iraqi families begin to return to their homes and rebuild their lives, we know that lasting peace in Iraq requires us to address the trauma caused by armed conflict.
Thanks to our Board of Directors, all donations given to support EPIC this holiday season will be matched up to $20,000. Double your support by donating today!
Your support for EPIC will allow us to continue our work in Iraq and in Washington, to assist communities rebuilding their lives and to enhance understanding of Iraq’s story in the United States and beyond.
During this season of giving, we ask that you support peace in the New Year.