Rising Out of the Ashes Left Behind by ISIS

Even before war came to her province, Fawzia was a widow. But life was manageable. She had four older children and four still at home, attending school.

Then ISIS arrived.

She and the younger ones fled from the violence in their part of Iraq. They were displaced but at least out of harm’s way. Imagine how good it felt recently to learn that the fighting had finally died down enough for them to return home.

Fawzia outside her shop.

But Fawzia’s hopes of getting back to normal were crushed when she came to her street, walked to her front door, and saw that the house had been pillaged and then burned. Completely destroyed. Her mind began to race with ideas of how to provide food, shelter, and safety for her family. She thought she had no one to depend on but herself.

She was wrong.

You have not forgotten Fawzia or dozens of women and men like her. With a small business grant that you provided, Fawzia purchased women’s and children’s clothing and opened a shop in her neighborhood. She and her daughters filled the racks with dresses, shoes, and toiletries. They now work together to run the business. Her store sign shows her name in the lower left corner.

Fawzia’s dreams have not stopped there. She is also a skilled seamstress and is making plans to design and sell her own creations.

Recent years have not been easy for Fawzia, but she knows she is not alone. You heard her story and are walking beside her, giving the help she needs to bring her ideas to life.

This is the same hope you provided for 43 business owners just last month in Iraq. These men and women live in 3 different cities and have started 16 types of businesses—repairing shoes, running a daycare, baking bread, repairing cars, and more. Each has their own story of trials but also their own ideas for a fresh start. 

You make it possible for our team here in Iraq to identify men and women around the country who have an idea, a vision. These individuals already have the knowledge and skills to move forward. Many of them graduated from college, have prior work experience, or have logged thousands of hours at their trade. What they need is not a handout. What they need someone to listen to their plan and provide the tools to make it happen. 

We conduct an initial interview to document each person’s background and learn more about their family, their skills, and their business idea.

Next, we go together to purchase the necessary tools and supplies. They receive a budget and decide for themselves what they need most.

After they open their business, we keep on visiting. We check product quality and offer coaching on advertising, budgeting, and making business plans, as needed.

Through this process, our grant recipients also become friends. Together we work through setbacks and celebrate successes.  

PLC staff visiting with empowerment recipients and friends at a refugee camp.

We’ve always known that this kind of job creation was the answer, the mortar that would repair the broken pieces of war. And we’ve always known that your help would be vital—that together we would work this brokenness into beauty.  

Thank you for helping refugees become small business owners, employers, and providers. You’re helping them rise above the ashes that ISIS left behind.