Kurdistan’s Erbil city has become a cultural hub, bringing together people from various ethnic backgrounds. Two charitable initiatives set up by local youth have successfully fundraised to purchase 241 outfits for orphans on Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.
Shine Together Charity Team and Hope campaign were started by local youth, some of them are Arabs, Kurds, and with various religious convictions. What makes this group of volunteers worthwhile to highlight, is that given the ethnic tensions in the region, they are uniting for a common cause.
Zinah Akram, a young Kurdish-Arab resident in Erbil city spoke to me on her motivation for starting this project. She said, “Every child deserves to receive enough care, support and love in order to become a positive influential individual in society”.
She highlighted that the current economic crisis in the region has badly affected the amount of support orphans receive in the region, “Due to the recent crisis, our society focuses on humanitarian situation, leading to neglect towards orphans.”
“We started in 2013 with a group of friends. At the time we were collecting clothes for Syrian refugees, and despite our limited means we managed to cover around 30 families.”
Following the emergence of Islamic State militants in 2014, Akram and her friends started to fundraise for displaced families in Erbil city. They have helped hundreds of families so far.
“The idea for this project came from the need to change. As women we need to support each other and our society must learn to respect our struggles to strive for a better tomorrow for our children. Not only women, but also our men.”
Akram highlighted the importance of social networking sites in fundraising and being a tool of mobilisation. Their campaign started on Facebook and this is one of the primary sources of advertisement that they use to highlight and attract support for their respective causes.
“We started to tell friends and family about the Orphan clothing campaign on Facebook. The idea was to involve donors in the process by taking them to shops, providing them with the orphans clothing size. Through this inclusion there’s a sense of selfless humanitarianism that we want to promote.”
Akram and her group of friends are keen to “raise awareness among our youth about the high value of volunteer work and to emphasise that two hours of volunteering in the weekend can radically change someone’s else and help our society progress.”