Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fundraising and Charity Part 2: Find a Organization in Iraq to Support

I almost wish I could afford to quit my job and put all my time and effort into fundraising and finding sponsors and donors for local organizations who need help and support in order to do the outreach they really want to do. The outreach that they're really needed to do.

There are so many great causes in Iraq that could use the extra help. If any of you is ever feeling charitable or especially if you know of a company that would want to make a large donation, let me know. I have multiple organizations to choose from for which I can give you ample information and I can personally put you in touch with the people in charge who I trust and know are doing everything they can for their organizations.

I know it's often difficult to decide who to trust with your charitably donated dollars. Many of us give to big-name organizations because they're well-known, but often these non-profits have turned into gigantic businesses. 

Since I've been in Erbil, I've been pretty heavily involved in fundraising. I wrote previously about Quiz Night where we provide some fun entertainment and in turn everyone gives us a small donation which we use for the kids living at the Erbil Orphanage. 

On top of Monday night Quiz Night, we have regular events raising money for a local organization which was started by some friends. The founders are both local and foreigner. The organization is called the RISE Foundation and it's geared entirely toward assisting Syrian Refugees living the the camps on the Iraqi-Syrian border. Originally they were collecting clothing and perishable food in order to help Syrians who were arriving in the camp during winter with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a few keepsakes. They were just trying to make sure these people who were displaced by civil war were clothed, warm and fed.

Now the organization is focusing more on healthcare, education and community development. Just at the beginning of this month, we organized a huge event and were able to raise over $9,000. 

There is also a local organization, founded by an American (a Texan, in fact), which specifically tends to the needs of disabled children. Post-war Iraq sees a lot of children with disabilities whether because of the direct effect of explosives, disease, or chemical warfare (residents of the town of Halabja, which suffered a devastating chemical attack at the hands of Saddam Hussein, sometimes bear children with disabilities). Unfortunately, lack of funding and infrastructure and a struggling healthcare system means these children often don't get the care they need and/or their families suffer.

Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids uses donations and funding to purchase pediatric wheelchairs and distributes them around Iraq to children with disabilities. The wheelchairs are custom fitted for each child and can later be adjusted for growth. Unfortunately, this great organization is losing its funding due to constraints from the American government that require non-profits receiving government funding to use the money toward American charities or charities that somehow boost the American economy (i.e. buy the supplies in the states from American manufacturers). We're hoping to find a new sponsor for this organization, but until then, we raise money at weekly events to at least help pay for the distribution costs.

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