Education in Emergencies
EDGE responded in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq beginning in September of 2015. Our projects grew and changed with the changing opportunities and climate of the country, but most of the people that we worked with have been Yazidi, Muslim, or Christian Kurds who escaped from Sinjar Mountain in August of 2014 at the hands of ISIS. In June 2018, we proudly handed off the work that we had been doing to the Panaga Organization for Education. This organization began as The Haven Center in Shariya town, and after two years of programming, they were able to launch off into their own organization and have continued and improved on the work. We are proud to be advisors and supporters of their ongoing work to use education for peace-building and community growth and stability.
Reflections on our Northern Iraq Response
The Haven Center
Located in Sharya town, near Dohuk, Kurdistan, the Haven Center has been open since June 2016 and has served well over 150 children and youth from the displaced community. Our primary program is our Child-Friendly Educational Programming that offers classes for children not enrolled in formal schooling. In our center, they participate in Art Therapy, study English and Kurdish, explore lessons in math, science, and computer as well as enjoy daily character lessons. The kids receive a healthy snack each day they attend.
Pop Up Schools
In May, 2016 we began a new mobile program called "Pop-Up School." We started in an unfinished hotel building that was inhabited by twelve displaced families, and have since moved to two different Pop-Up locations. In Pop-Up programs, our team (made up primarily of volunteers) shows up once a week for 2-3 hours and set up class to teach English, Kurdish, Hygiene, Art, and Character Lessons.
Our current Pop-Up is serving more than 100 kids in a small village on the outskirts of Sharya town. Even in the cold, with no good place to meet, the kids eagerly run to meet our team when they arrive and love the opportunity that the Pop-Up School gives them.
A tragic side-effect of crisis and conflict affected countries is that while programming abounds for children, youth are often overlooked or underserved. Teenagers whose lives have been radically changed are left to figure out their future and are often expected to also find ways to support the family and care for the younger ones in the family.
Many times, teenagers have lost all record of their schooling leaving them few chances of continuing their education, and they are also prime targets for recruitment into militant groups. EDGE seeks to find outlets and avenues for these teenagers and young adults to find purpose and hope in the midst of the turmoil. In our Engaging Youth programming, we have offered English & Computer courses, Basic Health courses, Peace-building workshops, Photography workshops, and Girls' Crochet courses.
Our goal is to see a vibrant, equipped, and motivated generation rising out of tragedy to promote peace and make lasting changes in their communities and countries.