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Vegas in Duhok

Believe it or not, a fountain similar to that found in the Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel, exists on the pinnacle of Zawa Mountain overlooking Duhok. My guess is that someone in high places has been to Vegas and brought what they could of it back to Kurdistan.

Zawa Mountain was bare, raw until 2016 when tea stands began to pop up in the evening hours, always facing in the same direction. Namely towards Duhok City. No one ever crossed the unpaved road to look at the view from the other side, that of Shariya Camp. The tea vendors got rich on tea overlooking the city, whilst the camp was deleted, eradicated, in the collective mind of the city.

Then the tractors, the bulldozers and the cranes arrived. Massive construction commenced and continued over a period of a few years. My heart struggled as I saw millions of dollars being poured into a tourist attraction whilst the tent dwellers lacked even sufficient public bathrooms.

One side effect of construction was that it drove the majority of prostitution away as there was no longer anywhere to hide.

Zawa Park was completed and to be honest, leaving the use of finance aside, it is gorgeous, one of the most relaxing places to take our students. And yes, the Bellagio fountain replica is kind of awesome.

We took some of our besties there this week, sometimes it's the simplest things that touch the heart and refresh the weary soul.

“For with you is the fountain of Life.” Psalm 36. 4



“This was a wonderful trip, it was one of the best days of my life. I have never been in such a beautiful place in all of my life. I did not know that there could be such fountains of water, with music and a rainbow. I could have stayed there all day. It was so relaxing.

You did something for me that I will never forget. I am not sleeping at the moment as the memories are haunting me. Sitting by the water, listening to the music helped me to relax. When you called me I got ready immediately, I was so excited and felt so loved and cared for. Thank you for caring for me and including me in everything you do. I will never forget this delicious day.”



It is no secret that Yasser is one of my heroes. A week prior to Newroz he underwent an operation to straighten the stumps that he currently has for legs as part of the preparation for prosthetics. In the freezing cold of the Newroz weather, wrapped in blankets he came to celebrate with us. In the last two months, he has quit smoking and lost weight in order to be able to stand on his feet. He is a total star.



“Our visit to Zawa was way more than beautiful. It was so comfortable for us, a perfect place for those of us who are in wheelchairs, we felt that we belonged there, it was so easy. It was totally perfect to sit by the water and to walk around the lake. Noori made games for us and of course, I won every race!! We ate ice cream ( I broke my diet just for this ) and drank juice. We laughed a lot. We clapped to the music even though it was not Kurdish music, it was just wonderful.

My weather changed, I felt that air had come into my lungs. We need such trips as life in the camp is stifling in many ways. Thank you SOHF.”


“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.” - Washington Irving


“I felt totally beautiful in this wonderful place. I am unable to describe my feelings to be in this gorgeous place with the fountain, the water shooting up so high, the music, and the ice cream.

It was a precious gift to be with gentle, beautiful, loving caring people. I am so grateful to belong to Springs of Hope. I pray for you all every day. I pray that you will always have the ability to care for us. We need you, we need your love and the respect and dignity that you lavish on us.”

Shex Dakhil

“Kindness and faithfulness keep a king safe.” - Proverbs 20. 28


“I felt handsome. I felt like a king. I felt one meter taller than I am. It was such fun, it was so beautiful, so different from anything that I have ever seen and known. Thank you for your continuous support, for your care, for always thinking of us and taking care of us with excellence. You even buy the expensive ice creams with the perfect taste.

I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful family, Springs of Hope. There is no other family for me.”




“This was the most elegant break. I know nothing about the USA or the fountains there but this was the most glorious experience for me. I could have stayed there just watching the rainbow dance behind the water. The style of music was not so new for me as I hear very similar sounds in the Hope Centre, it is very comforting and relaxing.

I loved circling the lake several times, watching the families enjoying the park and the fountain. I met a bride and groom taking their wedding photos. I requested a photo with them but they turned away. We made our own photos and our own memories.

I returned to the camp with a smile in my heart. Thank you."



I will leave you dear friend with the words of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. "I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real unconditional love. You can find it in simple acts of kindness towards someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love, it is the common fibre of life, the flame that heats our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives."




These simple acts of kindness are opening up a world of unconditional love.

Every donation makes a huge difference.


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