We have conducted a Peace Yard Activity. The situation in Iraq is still unstable.

[Original by Emi NAKANO, Iraq Project Team Assistant (March 3, 2020); Translated by E. Miyazaki/A. Taguchi]

Fighting continues with the remnants of the “Islamic State” (ISIS) in some areas of Iraq. Also, there have been riots between demonstrators who opposed corruption and the government. Approximately 500 people have become victims so far.

Under these circumstances, we conducted a Peace Yard program with the support of INSAN, a local NGO. A total of 57 children from the age of 7 to 13 participated in the program from October 7 to December 14. Many children participated, such as locals of the Kirkuk area, evacuees from other regions, Arabs, Kurds, and other ethnic minorities.

Lamiaa from INSAN and children.

Under insecure circumstances, it is important to provide a safe environment in which children can gather with comfort. At first, the children seemed to be nervous, but the tension gradually decreased as we did activities such as physical games. We also provided counseling care through specialists. There were many children who suffered from physical and psychological damage due to the loss of their family members and the evacuation from conflicts with ISIS. The children are gradually reviving their mental stability and self-esteem in a secure environment. Furthermore, we provided sessions to teach social values such as human rights, peace, and mutualism through videos and short plays. They also learned about cooperativity, sociability, and interdependency by spending time together in a group.

Children are enjoying shooting basketball. It is difficult to play outside because of the dangerous condition.

Children from different ethnic groups and religions gather together and learn about peace and mutualism.

Some children miss the opportunity to go to school because of the various issues in their society. Even if they can go to school, they do not have the chance to know children from other communities since the schools are classified based on ethnic groups. There are no art or music classes, and physical education is more like military training. Peace Yard is a valuable place where children can have various experiences through interaction with each other.

Lamiaa, the facilitator, surrounded by smiling children.

Tension increased again this year after an Iranian major general was assassinated by the US government. There is concern that ISIS will regain its power under this situation, so I appreciate your continuous support for our project.

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