Long term sustainable progress begins by encouraging relationships between churches, faiths, and communities that have been in conflict for centuries. The root of progress lies in education. Of course, education can only be productive if reliable food and water sources are available. SWIC partners with grassroots organizations that are finding sustainable solutions to meet these fundamental needs.
Father Faiz, the curate at St. George’s, is SWIC’s financial conduit and trusted “eyes and ears” on the ground. His work encourages unity despite differing faiths or denominations. As families aim to return home from the camps, Father Faiz recognizes the immense need to not only provide children with an education, but to provide water sources where infrastructure has been destroyed. One well costs between $1600-$2,000 and can provide water for 7-9 families, or up to 100 people. SWIC is working closely with Father Faiz to raise money to build wells that will be used by all, no matter what their faith. This represents a step towards religious tolerance.
In addition to water sources, food security is another fundamental need being tackled by the Etuti Institute, an Assyrian Christian youth education program founded by Savina Dawood.
The Etuti Institute creates workshops that bring children and youth together from all backgrounds to build generations of new leaders within the communities by demonstrating the importance of education, social responsibility, and ethical behavior. In addition to youth empowerment programs, Savina and her colleagues are working to rebuild a family-owned grocery store in Qaraqosh with SWIC’s assistance. Etuti plans to import food from Erbil to replenish the supply, and eventually import locally grown produce. When the market is profitable, it will not only feed local families returning home, it will be the seed of economic growth within local communities and serve as a model for other enterprises.
The primary building block of sustainable progress is education. On St. George’s campus in a safe area of Baghdad, Father Faiz founded The Redeemer School, a kindergarten for 150 children of all religions that encourages tolerance, unity, and love of learning. The school has grown in popularity among Muslim and Christian parents such that they encouraged Father Faiz to expand it into a primary school to accommodate more children. SWIC has provided funding to complete Phase One (the 1st floor) at a cost of $50,000, and is currently working to raise the additional $200,000 to complete the new building to ensure every child has access to quality education and real hope for their future.