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Thankfulness in a Box

In another decade. In another city there lived a school girl whose name was Thankful. She was raised by her single mum. She was raised in a slum building in an area of a city where no one wanted to go. Her apartment was tiny but spotless. Every area of her apartment radiated happiness. Pictures of Thankful as a baby, a toddler, a young girl. Every tiny area of this home sparkled with life and thankfulness. Even the aroma of the home baked Moroccan cookies brought a smile to one's face. One day, at 06.55 Thankful closed her front door and walked to the bus stop just three minutes away. At 07.03 she alighted the bus. At 07.05 so did a terrorist. Her body was found lifeless, thrown outside of the bus by the force of the explosion. Thankful was murdered by baseless hate. She was buried along with her friends and neighbors whose lives were taken from them that bloody morning. During the days of mourning, her mother, a queen if ever there was, retrieved a shoe box from underneath her wood frame bed. A box of Thankfulness. It was full of hundreds of those sticky paper notes, each one a story of thankfulness. Each one a testament to a short life of gratitude. “Thank you Mum for making my favorite sandwich today.” “Thank you teacher for an interesting class.” “Thank you my best friend for sharing your lunch with me.” Thank you. Thank you. Years of thankfulness stored in a box. Thankfulness and Gratitude were engraved on my soul from those days of mourning as was the thinness of this fabric we call life. Fast forward two decades. Walk between the tents of those whose lives were also torn apart in a second in the night hours of August 3rd 2014. Walk between the tents which whilst slums from the outside are spotless and shiny inside, although lacking all and totally bare apart from UN mattresses and the ancient solid tv. Notice those who have planted bushes and herbs outside their tent, their lands are gone but mint for the tea and green onions for the salad can grow. Here amongst those who almost ten years later are still lost, are those who have raised their heads above the lack, above the loss and have learned Thankfulness. Those whose cup is more than half full. Thankfulness and gratitude can never be taken for granted, they are indeed a gift. Blessed is the one who lives with nothing yet is thankful.

Here in Northern Iraq we have adopted the American Thanksgiving day as an opportunity to focus on the reasons we have to be thankful, to be grateful. There is no turkey, no meal, no family gathering. It’s a day when we pause to examine our hearts and see that which is stored in our internal treasure chests. Our kiddies may not have collected sticky paper notes in a shoe box, our kids don't have a shoe box, some still don't have shoes…but their hearts echo the beat of the forerunner from another time, another city.


“Out of them will come songs of thanksgiving, and the voices of those who celebrate.”

Jeremiah 30: 19



“I am Hanin. I am like a mother to my three siblings as our parents died. I am thankful that the Springs of Hope Foundation adopted us. I am thankful for their support in the Hope Centre and at Horses for Hope. I am grateful that we have learned to smile again. Thank you.” - Hanin


“Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

Eckhart Tolle


Ayhan, Project Coordinator

“Thanksgiving Day holds great significance for me as it provides an opportunity to express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. It is a day to reflect upon the abundance we enjoy , to appreciate our existence in this world, and to extend our thanks to those who stand by us, supporting and understanding our life journey. I am thankful for each new day which gives me the opportunity of turning every moment into a blessing and making a positive impact.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at the Hope Centre. It is not our holiday and some of our students did not connect at first. Using music and art and shared moments together, we came together to express our gratitude to our supporters world wide. Thanks to each one of you for being a part of our journey.”

- Ayhan. Project Coordinator



“I had never heard of such a day. It was not important to me at all. Neither was it important to me to consider things that I should be thankful for but as the event progressed I realised that it is the simple things that cause my heart to be open, and when my heart is open then I am in the place to be will be thankful. Since Thanksgiving, my everyday prayer is to be thankful and to keep my heart open. The most precious thing that I have is my family. Most of my friends are not so blessed to have a family. I am now learning to be thankful.”

- Maha


“Thanks are the highest form of thought, and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

G.K Chesterton.


Kajen, Computer Teacher

“Thanksgiving Day is non-existent in our Yezidi community. It's a day when Americans eat turkey that they buy in a superstore in the city. For me, however, every day is Thanksgiving. I live thankful. I am thankful. If I were to write down everything that I am thankful for there would not be enough space in a book to write it.

Our Thanksgiving day event simply stirred up the gratitude that is in my heart and reminded me of all that is so beautiful in my life, to be thankful for it, to share my thanks, to speak out my thanks."

- Kajen. Computer Teacher


“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold rather a large amount of Gratitude.”

A.A. Milne. Winnie the Pooh


Ardawan, Orphan

“I am thankful for Springs of Hope Foundation, for the horses which are my friends, for Oscar the dog and the orphanage in Shariya village.”

- Ardawan, Orphan.


Jomana, Orphan

“Thanksgiving is new to me. It was my first time to be part of such a great event of music and art. I am thankful for my siblings. I am thankful for my second home at Springs of Hope. I am thankful for the wonderful horses I visit every week. And I am thankful for the orphanage and the kind staff where I live. Thank you everybody."

- Jomana, orphan


Hanan, Orphan

“I did not know about Thanksgiving before today. I loved the art and the music, they made me so happy. I am thankful for my siblings. I am thankful for my big sister who raises us. I am thankful most of all for my second home which I love so much, Springs of Hope. I am thankful for Springs of Hope raising us, protecting us and adopting us as their most precious children"

- Hanan, orphan


Talal, Former ISIS Soldier and Rescuee

“I think that Thanksgiving totally applies to Springs of Hope because from the first day that I returned from the captivity of ISIS, they have taken care of my every need. I am thankful to be alive. I am thankful to be free. I am thankful that Springs of Hope is my home and my family. ”

- Talal. ISIS former soldier and rescuee


“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good and his love endures forever.”

Psalm 106:1


Sahla, Director of The Hope Centre

“I am grateful to God for his guidance and his love. On this blessed day I am thankful to my parents for their constant encouragement, and to all who have believed in me from the beginning of my journey and who help me to pursue my aspirations.

A special and endless thanks and appreciation to the highlight of my day, every day of every week, to Springs of Hope Foundation. Thanksgiving is just one more day to say that being part of your family and working with you is always so wonderful. SOH is more than a family to me, giving me hope, life and strength every day. That means you Miss Lisa, that means you. My heart is thankful. I am so blessed."

- Sahla. Director, The Hope Centre.



“The earth has yielded its produce. God our God blesses us.”

Psalm 67:6


Sami, Gardener at The Hope Garden

“I have never heard about this Thanksgiving celebration. I am very thankful for my work. I am thankful for the Garden which gives us food and heals lives. Today I want to express my gratitude to all those around the world who help us, to those who helped to buy me the wonderful cultivator and tractor. Happy Thanksgiving to you all and have a meaningful day."

- Sami. Gardener at The Hope Garden.



I recall leaving the shiny apartment in the dirty tenement buildings of that far away city, uplifted. Not pulled down by the very real weight of death and mourning. I left that house propelled and purposed to live in gratitude with a spirit of thankfulness.

For the past almost ten years I have been blessed to be surrounded with such a tribe. Those who have lost love, love the hardest. Those who have nothing, give the most. Those who have every human reason to complain are the ones who are thankful. Those who have no human hope on the horizon are those who literally drip hope like oil wherever they go.

Our tribe is composed of those whose hearts are thankful. Those who live from a place of thanksgiving are positioned for abundance, thanksgiving and gratitude being the foundations. Our abundance will probably look different from yours. Our abundance will most likely dwell in a tent but it will abide, rooted and grounded deep within us, unshaken in seasons of drought.

We pray that you too will know such abundance.

With thanks and a heart overflowing with gratitude.



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