KURDISTAN, Iraq –Violence in Iraq has displaced at least 3 million people, 50 percent of which have fled to the Kurdish-controlled governorates in the north of Iraq where the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working.

For more than six months, ADRA has been operating in Baharka Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp providing services to families who have fled fighting in Iraq. ADRA’s programs focus on informal education, protection, and restoring livelihoods for the most vulnerable families in the camp.

Through ADRA’s programs, volunteer teachers are providing informal education to small children with materials from UNICEF and while following guiding principles set by the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq.

“During the school holidays and the fasting month, ADRA is the only nongovernmental organization focusing on providing informal education to children ages 4-5 in the Baharka IDP Camp at this time,” said Leyn Gantare, ADRA country director in Kurdistan.

The agency is also providing one nutritious meal to each child in attendance and organizing recreational activities to 400 children. Children’s recreational activities include sporting events, drawing competitions, music and games, etc.

“These kinds of activities allow children to express themselves and stay socially connected with other children,” said Gantare. “Our activities are especially targeting girls and children with disabilities.”

ADRA partner UNICEF is providing tents for education and child-friendly spaces that will allow children to be occupied in a constructive and safe way.

To increase the resilience of the displaced population, ADRA is offering small grants that will enable families to start their own small businesses. ADRA community mobilizers and social counselors are following-up regularly with the business owners as well as providing training in cash and business management. The agency has been providing Kurdish lessons as well to help adults and children integrate with the local communities.

ADRA programs in Kurdistan also include awareness campaigns to both displaced Iraqis and the host Kurdish community about hygiene, the dangers of child marriage, children’s education, good community relations and cooperation, and inclusion of persons with disabilities among other things.

About ADRA

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International is the humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. For more information, visit ADRA.org.