Charity project for the behalf of Iraqi Roma Village School
Iraqi Roma village school reopened 14 years after destruction
In 2004, armed extremists attacked the village of Al Zuhour in Iraq’s Diwaniya province, 200 kilometres south of Baghdad, destroying the only school for the marginalised Roma community.
The 2003 US-led invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime had changed things dramatically for Roma minority, who had come to Iraq centuries before from India.
For decades Iraq’s Roma — also called “Kawliya” or gypsies — were primarily known as professional musicians and dancers invited to feasts, weddings and parties. But since the rise of hardline Islamist groups in Iraq after Saddam’s fall, the Roma have increasingly been persecuted, accused of loose morals and of participating in parties where alcohol was served.
The Roma suffered social exclusion and poverty for decades, even though Saddam Hussein’s government offered them Iraqi citizenship in the eighties, yet this did little to improve their situation.
At the beginning it was only an idea! An idea to help the forgotten Roma children of Iraq, the children of the Kawliya People.
Most of them can’t read and write because they have had no schools for many years. All of them are working as beggars in the streets. The first obstacle that stopped most of us from helping them was lack of access to their village as they live isolated from the rest of Iraq. Situation in Iraq in general is very difficult causing their case to be totally forgotten.
Every idea begins with a moment of emotion, but you can’t start a charity with only emotions.
Now the idea has a form, has a concept and while there is still a long and difficult way to go, our goal is still achievable and possible. When I read the news last year about the reopening of the children school in Kawliya village, I followed the thread and connected with the people who worked to make this great achievement that gave the Kawliya people a hope for better future.
The woman behind this project is Manar Alzubedy, an Iraqi humanitarian activist who in 2018 with the help of UNICEF was able to make it possible that these kids can start learning reading and writing and attending a normal children’s school. The last school was destroyed by Al Mahdi Army back in 2003.
After we connected and realised we have the same goal to help these children, the next challenge was to find a humanitarian organisation who could collect the donations without taking any percentage and could supervise the work that should be done in their village with local Iraqis. The village has no access to drinkable water, the children need clothes, shoes and a play yard with a garden, as the places where they live cannot be called houses.
During my last visit to London I worked with one of the charity projects of Iraqi women humanitarian organisation called Iraqi Women Association Fund. What I like about these women is that they are very professional in their work and all of them work as volunteers with no beneficial purposes. This charity organisation is registered with the government in the UK and has a team and connections in Iraq following the work they do.
I knew that they had many projects and were very busy working with them but I was really hoping that they would accept my project proposal. After I explained the situation of these kids, they showed a lot of support and they believed as well that these children deserve a better future. While they appreciated my efforts, they still had to discuss the project proposal themselves and make their own investigation to make sure that things are legal and the people who are going to work in Iraq in this project can be trusted. While the women were emotionally moved, they wanted to do things right in a professional manner. Although I wanted to get things moving as soon as possible, I felt a huge relief that they accepted this project that is so close to my heart. It’s important that everything is done correctly, following the legal process even though it takes time to do it properly. Iraqi Women Association Fund has a lot of experience in many humanitarian projects in Iraq. After they finished consulting with all the members in the organisation and concluded their investigation, I got an official approval for my project. They helped coordinate the donations to reach the Kawliya children and are supervising where the money exactly is going and how it will be used. So now it is not just an idea, it is an official project! We are helping these children have a better future.
The project started last year with the first Inanna Festival Charity gala: all the money from ticket sales were donated to the fund. We also were selling t-shirts with the festival logo and all the profits from that were donated as well.
Our Charity gala in Inanna international Iraqi dance festival 2018 was successful, please have a look at this video report that we received, the joy of these kids is really priceless!
We are determined to continue our work with these children and our festival for this year will dedicate its profits from Charity gala again to the school of these children.
For everyone who wants to make donations directly to support these kids, this option is available – please check the following details
account name : Iraqi Women Association Fund IWAF ?
IBAN number: GB61MIDL40261242071363
Branch Identifier Code :
54Clarence Street Kingston upon Thames Surrey
ASSALA Alnakhil SCHOOL