A recap of 2018

As Christmas is here and the new year beckons, we thought it would be a good idea to look back on this years many activities. We are grateful for all the gifts, involvements and dedications. We had some good collaborations and below are some of the highlights of 2018.

Primary Health Clinic at Bajed Kandala 2: In the face of constant challenges, shortage of funds, and increasing demand as other NGOs and government agencies withdraw from the camp, our team worked with heroic dedication to keep the clinic open and fully functioning year-round, six days a week, continuing to provide its vital services to the population of Bajed Kandala camp. On average Dr Ahmed and the team saw over a hundred patients a day. Floods, power cuts, government interference, medicine shortages: nothing could stop them.

Emergency relief: The attack on Afrin in Syria by Turkey and their allies in March of this year created a humanitarian disaster. JHK organised an emergency relief shipment of food, clothing and medicine to help some of the thousands forced to flee.

Education: 2018 saw an expansion of our English language education programme, with volunteers from five continents coming to Bajed Kandala teach and learn from our incredible students. Our ambition for 2019 is to offer English classes year round, led by experienced teachers working from a common curriculum, alongside a changing programme of other activities. This year, aside from daily language classes, we have offered courses in photography, painting and drawing. We have also started basic literacy classes, and opened a small library open to all camp residents.

Youth sports: During the past year our youth sports programme has gone from strength to strength. The girls’ football team racked up particularly impressive victories. And our kindly donated kits enabled the squad to look their best.

Commemoration and protest: The 3rd of August is a solemn day for Yezidis, the day we come together to remember the genocide of 2014. This year at Bajed Kandala it was also an occasion to remind the government in Kurdistan and Iraq, as well as the global community, of their broken promises and call on them to help Yezidis return, renew and rebuild.

Women’s Centre at Bajed Kandala: August was not only a time for remembrance, but for looking forward with new optimism and hope.  After months of preparation, we officially opened the first dedicated space for women at Bajed Kandala camp. The  Women’s Centre is a base for an ambitious programme of holistic rehabilitation for survivors and returnees, which includes physical and mental healthcare, education and skills training.

Operation Hope: In October we were visited by volunteers from Operation Hope. This wonderful Australian NGO has also raised funds for a shipment of much-needed medical supplies to arrive in early 2019.

Art at Bajed Kandala: In November artist Shane Sutton, supported by our old friends at Syrias Vibes and the SCOOP foundation, visited Bajed Kandala where he taught young people from the camp about drawing, painting and street art and helped them create some fantastic installations of their own.

The Longest Road: Film-maker Matthew Hall and veterans Richard Campos and Stan Rapada, longstanding friends and supporters of JHK, continued touring with The Longest Road, their feature-length documentary about the plight of minorities in Iraq and efforts to help them. A new “International Cut” version, which was personally supervised by award-winning filmmaker and renowned film editor Anne Goursaud, premiered at the San Antonio Film Festival. This year alone screenings have been held from Nashville, Tennessee to Rome, Italy. If you are interested in holding a screening in your home town contact jointhelpkurdistan@gmail.com

A bittersweet end to the year: The end of 2018 has seen hope and despair. We were delighted to hear of the award of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad, for her role as a courageous voice for human rights and victims of genocide. We hoped this deserved honour, for the brave young woman who has become a spokesperson for Yezidis on the world stage, might lead the international community to wake up and pay attention – to realise that four years after the genocide Yezidi refugees and IDPs are still waiting, that their living situation is becoming only more desperate as camps fall into neglect, that their homeland remains riven by conflict, that they are more than ever pawns in other people’s wars.

We hoped the world would begin to take notice. But while the dancing continued long into the night at the nobel banquet, Turkish planes were setting off on fresh bombing raids against Sinjar. In December came the news that the USA would withdraw from Syria, leaving Kurdish territory to be carved up and placing civilians, particularly religious minorities such as Christians and Yezidis, in terrible danger. It seems no lessons have been learned. Everybody who was anybody wanted a selfie with the prize-winner, but nobody was listening to what she had to say. Let us hope that the new year brings new hope. Whatever happens, we have plenty of work to do…

How can I help? 

Volunteer: Volunteers are the lifeblood of JHKs work. We look for serious, dedicated individuals with valuable skills and experience working with vulnerable people in challenging environments. We are particularly looking for qualified volunteers in the following areas: education, women’s and reproductive health, logistics, fundraising and grant writing. To find out more about opportunities, email us on volunteer.jhk@gmail.com

Donate: JHK depends on the generosity of private donors. We have minimal administration costs and all international staff work on a volunteer basis and pay their own travel cost, so you can feel confident that every small donation makes a big difference to survivors.

Credit/debit card via facebook: visit out facebook page and click the “donate” button.

Paypal: send donations to jointhelpkurdistan@gmail.com or click the following links to donate in SEK, GBP, USD

Swish (in Sweden): 0731919960

Bank transfer:
Account holder: Joint Help for Kurdistan
Bank Address: Swedbank, Box 2033, 19502 Märsta, Sweden
IBAN: SE3280000832799444936125

Fundraising: Think you can hold an event at your school/workplace/association to raise funds? Get in touch with us at jointhelpkurdistan@gmail.com and we would be happy to help!

With love from the entire JHK-team we want to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!