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Kids 4 Hope

A couple of months ago we were approached by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and asked to partner with them in two projects. The care of orphans in a local institution and working inside the local prison. The orphan project ( KIDS 4 HOPE ) has taken off and is proving to be a win - win for everyone. Prisoners of Hope is taking time, as we anticipated, although invited we have to jump through many government hoops in a number of provinces and even more offices.

In the last week we have been given yet another orphanage, one just for boys and this coming week will begin working with them too. The definition of "orphan" is somewhat different from that of the west, so allow me to clarify.

I have been so very impressed, challenged and moved by the Yezidi community who have embraced genuinely orphaned family members under their tribal system, and taken them into their families as if they were their own flesh and blood. There are those, both in the Yezidi community, and the Kurdish Muslim community at large, who are abandoned. In the Yezidi community this is usually due to one parent being "missing" not known whether dead or alive in captivity. The remaining parent has "moved on", remarried and sadly abandoned any living children.

In the Muslim / Arab community we are working with "Youth at Risk", children and teens who have been removed from their parents, or taken off the streets for their protection. In most cases the mothers are prostitutes, some on the streets, some imprisoned, and fathers if and where known, drug dealers or worse, also imprisoned. For this reason you will see that we do our best to protect the privacy and security of these brave children, and cover their faces. We have left a few photos uncovered for you to see what beautiful souls these are. It is a joy and honor to be able to work alongside them and deep bonds are being quickly made as we carry life and hope in with us.



 

Salam, Director of the Hope Academy of Art.


"I was so happy when Miss Lisa shared the new programme, Kids 4 Hope with me, and asked me to direct it. I welcomed the new direction and the possibility of working with another group of needy children, all of whom face great challenges. I was glad to be able to interact with the mainstream Kurdish community in the city.

When we began the programme I saw that the Manager was a little sceptical of us. As we gradually learned to talk to each other, she told me that many NGOs had come and gone, she thought that we too, would be like the others, needing a “tick” on their CV but not caring for or investing in the children. She realized that our only agenda was to love on these kids and to give them our best.

The management and staff watched us, it was a little uncomfortable at the beginning but when they saw how happy and engaged their students were, they began to relax. I have noticed how the atmosphere changes within minutes of us arriving. The children are always ready and waiting for us. As we begin to work, often with Radwan playing the violin as background music, the atmosphere becomes still and peaceful. The children become relaxed and engaged in whatever project we are doing.

They listen, they follow our gentle direction and find themselves astonished to discover their hidden talents both in art and music. Their director has asked us to participate in their annual art exhibition which is a great honor.

We are seeing a mental change, we watch their body language and see that a healing process has begun, also for one girl who is wheelchair bound. We now bring them in small groups to Horses for Hope every week which is opening up an entirely new world for them. From abandonment on the dirty streets of the city to being loved and welcomed to our village farm! Can you imagine?

For me personally, it is a joy to work and serve these wonderful, abandoned children and to help give meaning and content to their life. I love working alongside Radwan, our music teacher, and Avya, our play therapist, there is a great dynamic between us as a team.”

Salam, Director of the Hope Academy of Art.



 

Radwan, Violin teacher at The Hope Academy of Music.


“I have learned to help others from Springs of Hope. All that I have learned since being a student there, then an intern, and now as a teacher, I can now give to these wonderful orphan children who are in need of love, acceptance and stability. We have become big brothers and sisters for them.

These children have been made weak due to their complex life and lack of family, but they deserve to be happy and strong as does every child. It seems to me that SOHF is a frontline emergency service, we get called in or called up as if in the army, and we come in with our love and hope to bring life to the weak and wounded. I already am deeply connected to them and look forward to our two days a week with them. I hope that with time we will be able to train them to be givers of life to those who they will meet on their journey.

They are very receptive to music, both the classical sound and the traditional Kurdish music. They love art and handicrafts, they have the ability to sit quietly and focus on the task. We took them to the stables, they were of course a little nervous but as we gave them breakfast, Captain Barzan connected with them and they relaxed and basically wanted to live there!!

For me as Yezidi, as one of a persecuted minority it is a great joy to be able to walk into the mainstream Kurdish community from a place of healing and strength and to give back. I hope that this will be a long term project, I am ready to commit to these beautiful children.”

Radwan, Violin teacher at The Hope Academy of Music.



 

Avya, Play therapist at the Hope Centre


“Hello everyone, this is Avya. I am the play therapist at the Hope Centre. We have the great privilege of working with these children who were abandoned by their parents. I cannot imagine how it is to grow up with the knowledge of who their parents are, what they have done. I can not imagine knowing that there is no one who cares about them, no one to watch them grow up, no one to love them, no one to give them wise advice. It’s important to be with them and to provide some love and personal attention for them. They are always super excited to see us and always ask us to come every day. They have told us that they feel safe and peaceful with us. I know that we have been invited by the Ministry to give them good activities but we all desire to be able to teach them moral standards and to be able to prepare them for life by helping to build a strong foundation with them.

They came alive at Horses for Hope. It is not possible to describe their joy. They asked for us to give them a room to live in. They asked us to bring Taj with us every time we go to visit them. Although nervous at first they all made an instant connection with the horses, we can see that a stable visit will be a regular part of their program and I am sure that we will see healing come to them there. I am very glad and honored to be a part of Kids 4 Hope.”

Avya, Play therapist at the Hope Centre.



“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”

Psalm 27; 10

 

These are the words of young girls whose mothers left the country to make a new life abroad, leaving them behind, whose fathers are not known, or whose parents are in prison.


Hevi

“I love Springs of Hope. I love being with our new teachers. I love the stables. It is a wide and beautiful place that gives me great peace. I loved the baby horses. I felt huge joy for the first time in my life. I felt different feelings.” Hevi.



 

Malak

“I am thankful for SOHF, for the way that they have come into our lives. The stables is my happy place. I feel safe there. I am about to fly because I am so happy and full of joy. I have never experienced such an amazing feeling.” Malak


 

Nareen


“Every time you come to the orphanage to visit us, please bring the white horse, Taj with you. I have dreamed of a white horse. I know that he wants to talk to me so please bring him.”


Nareen



 

Bafreen


“I have always loved horses although I have never seen them. I was afraid at the beginning but I decided to face my fear. It was the most beautiful feeling, full of peace and calmness. I imagined beautiful things in my mind and I felt myself becoming quieter, more at peace with myself. I have to come again and again.

I love all that you prepare for us because you do everything with love. I wish you would come every day”

Bafreen.


 

Darya


“I love all that you do for us, I want to join every activity because everything you do is full of love and joy which gives me hope.”

Darya.


 

Daoud. Director of Horses for Hope.


“It made me so happy to be able to give some happiness to these orphaned children. I felt so proud of Springs of Hope, that we find the broken people and adopt them into our family. It was wonderful to see these kids come to life just by watching or touching the horses.”

Daoud. Director of Horses for Hope.


 

Barzan. Captain.


“It was an amazing experience for these children who are in the closed environment of a city orphanage to come to the country and see horses. I taught them something about the care of the horses and encouraged them to be brave. They loved riding and of course began to connect with the horses on an individual level. It was very special for us all.”

Barzan. Captain.


 

"Father to the fatherless.is God."

Psalm 68:5

 

Nurse Salah.

“It is a great joy for us to help these children who need the guidance of a father and the tenderness of a mother. When we first met them, their eyes were full of tears, their bodies were taut with tension, they were desperately looking for hope in their dark night of abandonment and pain.

We are watching them come alive. We are watching them feel and express positive emotion. They are happy and relaxed when they are with us and wait eagerly for our next time together.

Their joy makes me feel alive. We have encountered HOPE, and it’s now our duty to give these children Hope that will help them build their lives.” Nurse Salah.


I close today by quoting from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks essay entitled “Only our Children Can Write our Future” about the Polish - Jewish physician Janos Korczak who founded an orphanage for Jewish children and later one for Catholic children in Warsaw.

“He believed that in each child burned a moral flame that, if nurtured could defeat the darkness at the core of human nature. When the time came for the children under his care to leave he used to say this to them: “I can not give you the love of man, for there is no love without forgiveness and forgiveness is something everyone must learn to do on his own. I can give you one thing only, a longing for a better life, a life of truth and justice. Even though it may not exist now, it may come tomorrow if you long for it enough.”

"Children, dependent, vulnerable, defenseless are the litmus test of our humanity. Not by accident does the biblical word for compassion, rachamim, come from rechem meaning a womb. Korczak was right. We can not write the future. Only our children can do that."


 

Please help us to nurture the moral flame that is within each of these orphans.

 


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