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World of Difference

Welcome to Iraq, where Tearfund has been supporting people as they recover from conflict and continue to rebuild.

Stop 9 – Iraq
Iraq country stamp

Welcome

Iraq is a country with determined, resilient people who have endured many decades of destructive, armed conflict, but who have a determination to recover and rebuild.

Come with us and see a World of Difference in Northern Iraq, where Tearfund’s partners have been supporting families to start again and set up businesses.

Tray of chai in glasses

Local recipe

Cuppa chai?

Settle down with a tea, called Chai in Iraq, a crucial part of everyday life.

Ingredients

  • One litre of water
  • Six cardamom pods
  • Three scoops of black tea
  • Sugar to taste

Instructions

  1. Fill the teapot with water
  2. Open and add the cardamom
  3. Put the teapot on the hob
  4. Shortly before boiling the water, put in three scoops of tea
  5. Reduce the heat to low
  6. When it boils again, take off the heat for three minutes
  7. Add sugar to taste in each cup
  8. Pour and enjoy with friends
Country on world map

Where is Iraq?

Iraq is one of the most eastern countries of the Arab world, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Syria and Jordan to the west, and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the south.

Iraq in numbers

Transforming lives in Northern Iraq

Tearfund began working in Iraq following the First Gulf War in 1991 through local partners in the region of Kurdistan. When conflict erupted again in summer 2014, Tearfund responded to the physical and psychological needs of those whose lives had been devastated. Many people have been forced to leave within the country, living in tents and unfinished buildings in extreme temperatures – very hot in the summer months and freezing in the winter.

Abeer in the tent she lives in with her children

Abeer in the tent she lives in with her children at Laylan displacement camp, Iraq.

Open all hours

Fatima is a woman determined to provide for her family after they lost everything in the 2014 conflict.

Fatima in her shop

Fatima's shop, which she built and set up herself to take care of her children, thanks to a Tearfund loan.

Illustrative stamp

When she arrived back in her home village with her two daughters in 2017, Fatima found nothing. Conflict had forced the family to shelter in a village for four years. Meanwhile, Fatima’s home and all her belongings had been destroyed.

‘I felt a deep sadness inside and began to cry,’ she says. ‘But after I cried, I gave thanks to God. Because we – my children and I – are still alive. They are much more precious than a building or belongings.’

Her husband was not supporting the family, but Fatima was determined to rebuild. ‘I am hard-working and smart,’ she says. ‘I can depend on myself to build, start to earn money and live again.’ But it’s very hard to start from nothing, and that’s where support from people like you came in...

Fatima in her shop
Fatima's youngest son with a friend outside her shop

Top: Fatima's shop, which she built and set up herself to take care of her children, thanks to a Tearfund loan.  Bottom: Fatima's youngest son (right) with a friend outside her shop, which provides income to send him to school.

Even without help, Fatima set to work rebuilding her home. Neighbours would observe her with suspicion because it’s unusual for women to do physical work. But Fatima didn’t care. ‘They call me The Iron Lady’, she laughs.

But Fatima's resolve paid off when she sought financial support from Tearfund. To qualify, Fatima had to apply and interview. She gained a glowing reference from the community leader. He’d seen her carrying concrete blocks and confirmed that Fatima was a hard worker. Her application was enthusiastically granted.

‘I was so happy, I felt like I was flying,’ says Fatima. ‘I’d like to say thank you to Tearfund partners. They awarded me a loan. From that I was able to build a shop and buy stocks. I can now work and earn an income.’

The grant spurred Fatima on to build a thriving local shop selling food and household goods. ‘It's a lifeline provided by God,’ she says. ‘Some days I have many customers.’ Fatima is prepared to put in the hours, keeping her shop open until midnight if people want to buy goods.

‘I was so happy, I felt like I was flying – I’d like to say thank you to Tearfund’
Fatima

Thanks to income from the new business, Fatima is sending her youngest child to school – the first time she’s been able to afford to educate one of her children. Her eldest daughter is grown-up and married.

‘My tongue cannot stop speaking words of appreciation for Tearfund,’ says Fatima. ‘They have given me such great support.’

Tearfund and our local partners are continuing to support more people like Fatima to resettle and find permanent sources of income.

Fatima and her youngest son

<div>Fatima and her youngest son, the family lost everything when conflict came to their home village.</div>

Iraqi expressions

Tearfund's former Country Director for Iraq, Anita.

Tearfund's former Country Director for Iraq, Anita.

Strength in the hard days

Anita Malley, Tearfund’s former Country Director for Iraq, reveals how her faith got her through the difficult times.

‘There were hard days. But that’s when I would remember that, whatever challenges we face, God is so much bigger. What seems daunting to us isn’t daunting to God. I find deep strength from that, which gives me a determination to keep at it. Because of my faith, I could pray about the problems we were facing. We don’t have to solve them by ourselves, we can seek the Lord in prayer, trust in his promises and keep hopeful. That was so important when the days were hard. But it’s important to remember on the good days too.’

‘What seems daunting to us isn’t daunting to God, I find deep strength from that’
Anita
Sara plays with friends

Sara (10) plays with friends.

Landscape of rolling green hills

Revisit previous destinations

While you wait for your next destination, you can find more encouraging stories of transformation by taking a look back at all the other fantastic places we’ve visited with World of Difference here.

See destinations

We hope you were inspired by your time in Iraq. Next time, we will take you somewhere just as special. We can’t wait to welcome you again...

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