Giving families in distress a home and a sense of dignity: that’s the goal of a group of volunteer builders in Iraq. In the space of just one year, the organisation has renovated nearly 50 homes, providing a glimmer of hope for people in a country marred by violence.
There were four volunteers when “Iraqi builders” launched in May 2013. Today, there are 120 members in Baghdad, as well as a dozen more in the provinces of Nassiriya, Nadjaf and Maysan. So far, they’re rebuilt 49 homes.
“Our goal is to improve the lives of the poor for the long term”
Zaid Hani Koursheed, a pharmacist, joined the organisation during the summer of 2013.
One day, I went to the home of a sick woman to bring her medicine and men were there wearing vests and construction helmets doing building works at her home. That’s how I got to know about the organisation.
I found the concept very interesting because this project is also about giving people who are experiencing difficulties a helping hand. In addition to renovating their home so that they can be independent and provide for themselves, we also try to find them a job. The idea is to improve their lives for the long term. In Baghdad especially, we try to build small stores at the same time, so that the people who ask for our help can open a fruit and vegetable shop, for example. Other times, we buy them mopeds so they can work as couriers.Volunteers let us know about people we can help in their own regions. They are usually families living in extreme poverty, but there are also orphans, and disabled people who can’t do the renovation works themselves.“The project’s success is largely due to the solidarity of Iraqis”Our materials come mostly from donations from businesses, particularly from Baghdad. Sometimes, we run donation drives, allowing us to buy mopeds or building materials. Just recently, we organised a very successful charity sale in Baghdad. We sold costume jewellery, paintings donated by artists, mugs, etc.The project’s success is largely due to the solidarity of the Iraqi people who, in spite of economic hardship, never hesitate to help in whatever way they can.The involvement and devotion of the volunteers is incredible. Often, they pay out of their own pocket to take long bus journeys, sometimes over 500 kilometres, to go and renovate homes. They start work as soon as they arrive, without even taking a break.Iraq has definitely become a battlefield and there are daily attacks. An explosion can happen at any time and affect anyone. But we refuse to give in to fear and hopelessness. Life goes on, and our duty is to give hope and to believe in a better future for the country.
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