Dear Friends of Springs of Hope, As the year draws to a close, we all begin to reflect over the things the past year has brought. When I think back on what Springs of Hope Foundation has been blessed to accomplish this year, a recurring theme has been that of “building”.
The most literal expression of this theme is the building of houses. Springs of Hope was able to build houses for 52 survivors of ISIS, widows and disabled. After 8 years of temporary tent dwelling, these precious individuals at last had a real roof over their heads. Although humble by most standards, to those given the keys, they were castles. They were symbols of a new beginning, of moving past the trauma of the past, and of looking forward to the future with new expectations. As we at Springs of Hope Foundation look to 2023 and beyond, we know that providing permanent housing for 50 families is only a drop in the bucket. We look forward in the coming years to building 50, 100, 200 houses and more, so that the blessing of stability will not be for a select few but will be a hallmark of the community. Would you consider giving so that we can make this dream a reality for even more vulnerable tent families?
Horses for Hope is another area where building was evident. Although the construction of the lower floor of the stables commenced in November 2021, the upper floor, roof and windows were not completed until fall of 2022. Before the upper story was even complete, expansion had begun on the first floor, adding more space to store feed, more stalls for horses, more room for students to come, and more bathroom facilities suitable for our less able students. The original pair of horses has grown to a herd of 5 with 2 more on the way! Dauod and Barzan have jumped into their new roles as cowboys and have flourished. Shex Vagar has also joined our equine team. Harbi is thriving as our groundsman. People from all walks of life, from children to the elderly, to those broken in both body and spirit have come to Horses for Hope. In addition to the expected therapeutic benefits to survivors of trauma, the stables have been used in amazingly creative ways. The music classes have brought their instruments to play for the horses and compose musical pieces. The art classes have come to draw with the horses. The gardeners have come to plant food for the horses. As we look forward to 2023, we are excited to see the new ways that the stables and the upper room will be used. There are visions of concerts, exhibitions, and other events to be hosted above the stables, as well as expanding access to the horses to even more people. A gift now can help to complete the Horses for Hope Stables and Upper Room Creative Arts center. All of this was in addition to the Hope Medical Clinic, our educational, vocational and rehab classes, the Hope Garden has kept us and our students supplied with fresh fruit and veg year round, and the continual psycho-social care and therapy that Springs of Hope Foundation offers. We are so thankful for each of you and the many ways you have shown your support for our life work over the past year. As we look to 2023 we are filled with hope and anticipation for the buildings not yet dreamt of that will materialize and the lives that will experience healing and restoration as a result of “buildings.” With our deepest gratitude, Lindy Chairman of the USA Board, Springs of Hope Foundation
2022 was a full year for Springs of Hope Foundation, with a continual stream of survivors of ISIS coming to us from up to 15 different refugee camps in the Province of Duhok. Throughout the year, new survivors, those found in Syria and who were brought home joined us. They had heard about us from their friends, our name is known. They were looking for a new door which would give them a home, a safe place where they could return to life, receive education, build new memories and eventually a new life. We built 50 new houses inside Shariya Camp and even in December we are funding another two homes. Building homes meant giving life, giving a new start. I will never forget children and teens coming and saying that the first night in their new home was the first night of sleep in their life, or in their eight years of camp life. This was a “holy building”, building legacy, building future, giving them safety so that they can sleep well and therefore study well. Another new experience for us, and one which will expand in 2023 is working with the less abled members of our larger community, from both Shariya and Duhok. We have worked with the Dwarfs of Duhok, the blind students from the University, and we have an increasing number of students who are wheelchair bound. Our need for transport for these special needs people is growing as they are with us every day. These are people who are literally running towards HOPE. They began with us at Horses for Hope, and now study art, music, computers, literacy, photography and attend every seminar available. They know that they will find hope for the future with Springs of Hope Foundation. Even though we have had a full plate, we have been able to identify real need and thanks to our kind supporters, supply those needs so that those with empty stomachs could eat, and those who needed new clothes before the Yezidi festivals, could come and chose and go out with their heads held high in confidence and pride of dressing well. We have literally become a Spring where everyone who is thirsty, everyone who has a need, sick or healthy, young or old comes to drink from that spring, and goes away refreshed, satiated and with his need met. We can not do any of our work without our friends and partners from around the world. We are so thankful to you. There is much more work to do, as the refugees have been here for eight years now and will continue to live both in the camp and in tents and rental houses in the village, problems are only increasing. It has been our dream for two years now to address one of the major problems of integration and education by building an English speaking kindergarten in the village, raising up a generation of Yezidi refugees who are ready for life, prepared to integrate into the larger community, breaking the illiteracy of the past and, destined for higher education and future in Kurdistan. We have vision, we need your help. We are grateful for your care for our broken communities, the Yezidis, Syrian Muslims and Christians and ask that you not forget us this year. Thank you. Dr. Saeed Alo Khudeida CEO. Springs of Hope Foundation, Kurdistan & Iraq.
“Before entering 2023 I need to pause and look back. Dr Saeed and I firmly believe that we have, by the grace of God, written many chapters of history during 2022. Chapters that may not be read or understood until one day books are opened and then we will gasp “oh that’s what it was about, oh that’s why this happened.”
My Tenach falls open to the book of Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. “I pause to note that birth and death go hand in hand, as do all the cycles, planting and uprooting, searching and counting as lost, mourning and dancing. They can not be separated, and both have to be embraced. Reminiscent of Isaiah 61 which describes so eloquently the beauty from underneath the ashes, the oil of joy from underneath the mourning.
We have seen the fruit of continual searching for Yezidi men and women, boys and girls who are still missing since 2014, somewhere in Syria. We have had the joy of the finding after years of searching, along with feeling the continued pain for those who are still counted as lost.
I have received and given more embraces from and by kids rescued from Daesh this year than in my entire life. Embraces so tight, so hard that the language of love, connection, belonging was evident. No words were needed.
We danced. Those whose spirits were heavy in 2021 danced in 2022. Every opportunity to dance was seized. At the stables we danced, the dance of the bridegroom over our wheelchair bound guys, to their total joy and delight. At our staff dinners we rocked and rolled. My cup was overflowing as I looked at the freedom, the love, the healing for both our staff who were once in captivity, those who lost all and were displaced from Shingal, and those from the village who carry their own trauma and suffering. I thought of the verse from 1 Samuel where David enquires of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue, recover everything that was taken from you.”
“A time to keep and a time to discard.” Also true for us. There have been staff members who have moved on. Staff members whom we have released. From January 1st, we will be employing three of our Hope Academy of Music interns who will take on the role of teachers, violin, guitar, drums and percussion. A generation of tent kids are taking their rightful place as leaders. We are excited to see the fresh sound and vision that they will bring us.
“A time to kill and a time to heal”. The old has passed away, we live inside the kingdom of healing one where “He restores my soul”.
“A time to cast away stone and a time to gather stones together.” We have watched Harbi, our Groundsman at Horses for Hope, examine stones for building with his eagle eye. He picks them up, turns them over, and either he accepts them or rejects them with a “this one is not beautiful enough, I will throw it, or this one has holes, it will not be strong.”
And of course, “a time to break down and a time to build.” As we have built the stables this year, I have been totally engaged with and fascinated by the process of building, in laying foundations, in the structure, the support system. We could not have built two years ago, we were still engaged in casting away stones, we were engaged in gentle demolition work, we were still uprooting.
We have laid foundations and then watered them day and night for days. Our building was stuffed full of wooden supports for weeks, with Mr Osman daily weaving his way between the poles looking for the exact moment that one of the supports could be removed. Never all of them at once. One by one. There is an order and strategy to structure.
There are those who have asked me 'why after a global pandemic, why during a global economic crisis do we build?’ Because when demolishing the structure of ISIS that has taken the minds and souls of our kids captive, it needs replacing with a structure that belongs to a different kingdom. Building is part of the success of the rescue. Building is part of recovering all. Building is establishing a new order, one for life, for hope, for future. Building has to commence towards the end of the demolition process, so that it is ready when the last supporting poles are gently removed, and not so gently thrown to the side and discarded.
We have built to give a roof to hope and life.
So, I end 2022 with great thanksgiving and with the song, Adon Olam, my anthem for 2023.
“Lord of the universe who reigned before anything was yet created, At the time when all things were made by his desire, then was his name proclaimed King. And after all things shall have an end, He alone, the dreaded One shall reign. He was, He is and He will be in glory. And He is One, and there is no second to consort with Him. Without beginning, without end, to Him belong strength and dominion. And He is my God - my Redeemer lives - and a rock in my travail in time of distress. And He is my banner and my refuge, the portion of my cup on the day when I call. Into His hand I commend my spirit, when I sleep and when I wake. And with my spirit, my body also, the Lord is with me, and I will not fear.”
Until His end. Lisa Founder/ President Springs of Hope Foundation, Kurdistan & Iraq.