Our aim is to partner with different organisations, those that are working with locals and those that can help us work effectively on the ground. Good partnership is about trusting relationships - and what we appreciate is that friendship, commitment and loyalty has grown between those we work with, and those that have stood behind us to support us.
Established in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq during those crazy days in 2001 when Saddam Hussein was still in power - and the second Gulf War was looming. STEP is a wonderfully niche child protection agency. It has grown slowly over the years, primarily supporting vulnerable children - refugees, IDPs, and local Kurds - including kids working on the streets. Presently, it is also working with the local government to pioneer a regional foster care system which is slowly being rolled out across Kurdistan. STEP is not afraid to try something new, with lots of their ideas and initiatives coming directly from the local staff working with the kids – and we love that about them.
For me more information see: http://www.step-uk.com/uk/
This is what we are currently involved with on the ground. Hopefully, these brief descriptions capture some of what we are doing - but do feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions.
Long shown to have beneficial impact for traumatised individuals, it is being implemented in the Middle East refugee context for the very first time. Our Art Therapist works alongside STEP’s Child Protection Unit that operates both in the Arbat Refugee Camp and in the Drop-in-Centre for working children in the old bazaar in Sulaymaniyah. Through this service - children, young people and their carers have access to professional therapeutic support. Art-Therapy is proving to be surprisingly popular and meaningful to the children and adults who participate.
This is another of these well proven concepts that has now been shown to be beneficial in the context of displaced communities in the Middle East. Since 2017, Iraqi IDP & Syrian refugee young people have been learning how to climb safely in the region. Through the course of implementing an adventure therapy program, we have not only seen a therapeutic element for participants, but it has also proven instrumental in introducing peacebuilding concepts and community development initiatives. This program has helped people grow in self-confidence and overcome fear, they have discovered how to take responsibility and for some it has been instrumental in learning how to learn again.
Future sustainability for displaced communities can only be attained as they realise some form of financial security. For many, this has proved challenging as they have lost assets, or been held back through trauma or loss. Many amongst the international community have stepped in, providing emergency help and many have benefited through organised programs and investment. However, we have identified a particular gap for some young people. After much research, advise from organisations like the ILO and UN bodies, and following a pilot scheme - we have embarked on a program to empower some of these young people through IT skills, English language courses, business basics lectures and leadership sessions. We are also developing ‘on the ground’ partnerships with other organisations, one has already run a pre-cursor to their business incubator for refugees. We are always looking for that spark of innovation which often come through random conversations - sometimes these meandering paths lead nowhere, but every now and then we stumble across something that can help those most in need in a new and innovative way.