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How to Get Ahead of the Bitter Winter

29 December 2020

Dear Reader,

I don’t know who you are, what you do, or about any of the multi-faceted parts of you that make you, you. But chances are, there are a number of safe assumptions I can already make about you.

You’re reading this from a safe and warm place. Maybe tucked in a blanket and scrolling through your phone. Or may be on lunch break, reading this on your laptop as you warm up with your favourite soup from the work cafeteria.

You may not even be in the cosy indoors. You may be reading this as you wait at a bus stop, a train platform, or from a bench in the park. But even then, you’re probably wearing a coat, thick boots and a scarf around your neck.

You may have lost one of your gloves on the way, or you may have forgotten your coat at home. You may be having a really bad day and have somehow ended up much longer outdoors than you anticipated. But no matter how bad your day has been, you know with certainty that it will end in a heated home, safe from the cold outside.

You know that not everyone is safe and warm this winter. But you may have under-estimated just how un-safe and un-warm winter can be for some.

Try to imagine, for instance, spending a night during one of Iraq’s cold winter seasons in the house pictured below.

It’s close to freezing temperatures outside. The flimsy roof does not help keep cold air out. There is a tarpaulin sheet instead of where the door should have been, because the door broke some months ago and it’s too expensive to fix. The bed is a straw rug, and there is one blanket in the house to share but it’s not your turn to use it tonight. You put your coat on, but that’s hardly an alternative to a warm blanket. You are so cold that you cannot sleep.

The pictures above were taken by the Al-Ayn team on a visit to one of the orphaned children’s houses. For many of the orphaned children in Iraq, cold nights such as these are an everyday reality. One winter night in a broken house is uncomfortable. But continuous such nights are not only a matter of inconvenience; they leave children vulnerable to serious illnesses and may even be fatal. As stated simply by the WHO, “improved housing conditions can save lives”. The WHO’s Housing and Health Guidelines recommend an in-door temperature of eighteen-degrees celsius to protect residents from harmful health effects of the cold. Sadly, the temperature in some of the houses the Al-Ayn team visited in Iraq were nowhere near this recommended temperature for protection.

As always, children suffer the most. In a UNICEF report on Child Poverty in Iraq, poor housing conditions was one of the poverty dimensions found to impact youngest children the most.

You want to help bring warmth to others It hurts you to know of the suffering of others and you genuinely want to ease some of this suffering. You probably grew up with big dreams of changing the world to a better place.

Now that you are older, this task seems daunting and almost impossible. You know that there is no simple, quick fix to end global problems such as poverty. But you also know that people like you and I can make small yet important differences to other peoples’ lives. And if enough people did, it could change the world.

You can help make their house a home. Al-Ayn Social Care Foundation’s current Winter Appeal is rebuilding homes. You can contribute towards critical housing repairs. You can buy a window (for £35), a door (for £100) or replace 5 square metres of roofing (£325). You can contribute any amount towards these costs.

Visit our website to find out more about the Winter Appeal. Your donations, no matter how small, can make the cold, wet winters a little less harsh for orphaned children in Iraq.

Ghadeer Al-Safi