Empowering Kurdish Children in Northern Iraq

NORTHERN IRAQ — Sharo and Alex Ahmedi with Hope For Communities share how they are helping some of the most marginalized people and children in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq. In partnership with the Christian children’s charity CRY they are teaching young people English and empowering them with life skills.

Sharo & Alexis Ahmedi:

I’m Alexis and I’m Sharo and we’re married and we’ve lived in Kurdistan with our two children for seven years. I’m originally from this region, I was born in Slemani but in ’91 as a family we fled the country due to the war that was happening here and we went to the UK. We moved back as a family because we had a heart to really care for the people who are marginalised, the vulnerable.

And so the first community that we started working in when we moved back here was in the community that we’re in now. We want this to be a place where children can come and have fun and play and be creative. And so while we do try to teach them English, because that is what the community have asked for and that is what they feel will help them in their future, we also want to teach them skills for life. We want them to feel empowered, encouraged. Hope is that every child leaves here after every session feeling encouraged, feeling more positive about who they are as people. And another aspect and a very important aspect of this work is the investment that we put into our team.

We have a great team of local people that we have trained over many years who are able to then actually carry out these activities and put this input into these children’s lives and help these children develop and grow into great characters and great leaders for their future.

Shkar H. Abdullah:

The children here, as you can see them, with a small ball, we give them all the amount of joy that they can have in one day. Whereas if you do this in the city, it’s different because they have so much in reach. They have so much, they have mobile phones and stuff. Whereas I can say for children here, there might be families that don’t even have TVs. So for me, the joy that I get to see out of their faces is the whole to me.


When I have to be in here, I’d be happy to wake up and come here. It’s a space for us, very fine, because in here in Barikat, there’s no cafe, coffee and we are girls, we can’t go outside. It has been very fine for me because I can for learn and for play for anything and see my friends.

Sharo & Alexis Ahmedi:

And now we’ve really seen a growth and development of what we’re doing. So when we started our English language classes it was me as the English teacher and it was a lot of me jumping around, singing, looking silly, singing Baby Shark every week.

And now working with another organisation who supported us called Known Value Love. We’ve been able to provide training for all of our staff and we’ve written a full curriculum.

We now have a group of children and young people who are working towards actually getting a formal, internationally recognised qualification in English.

One of the girls recently from this community has just recently went to university and that’s so rare for someone from this community to go to university but also to be a girl. It’s an amazing achievement.


Learning English for us is very special because it’s for future and for job.

Sharo & Alexis Ahmedi:

These children are, they’ve just got so much potential, got so many kind of natural giftings but what they don’t have being born in a community like this is the opportunities that so many of us have been privileged to have, like a really good education, the opportunity to kind of excel and get, find employment and to train and all of those things that we take for granted and the children born here haven’t had those opportunities.

Even today in a lesson we were talking swimming and none of the girls have ever been swimming or ever had the opportunity and it’s heartbreaking so this place for us is a place where we can try and bring hope into their lives by giving them more of these opportunities.

Read more news on Humanitarian Services, Children, and Literacy on Missions Box.


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