Where your monthly gift helps provide mental
health programmes to those traumatised by
war and conflict.


Marhaba | مرحبا 

Welcome to Iraq – the next stop on your journey with World of Difference!

Iraq is known for its beautiful ancient architecture, middle eastern cuisine and is home to the world’s oldest civilisation.

Sadly, the country also bears the weight of a grim and troubled history, more recently the war against the Islamic State (ISIS). In 2014, an escalation of violence surged when ISIS launched attacks on northern Iraq. Due to the conflict, more than 70,000 people died, and around six million families were forcibly displaced from their homes.

Find out how your monthly gift brings emotional healing to people affected by conflict.


Where is Iraq?

Iraq is in the Middle East and shares borders with Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Syria and Jordan to the west, and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the south. Islam is the official religion of Iraq. 

Crude oil export revenues account for the majority of Iraq's economy. In 2022 alone it accounted for an estimated 95% of Iraq's total government revenues. 

Fun fact: Iraq is the birthplace of the world’s oldest written language. 


Overcoming the trauma of war

Having fled their homes due to ISIS, more than 11,000 displaced people now live in Kabarto camp in Iraq. Tearfund's partner organisation Tutapona is operating in the camp, providing mental health programmes that bring hope and healing for children and adults that have been exposed to extreme trauma.  

“Our programming is run entirely by nationals. We have Iraqi facilitators who have been trained to deliver our programmes in culturally relevant ways. It’s not just westerners coming in and doing it themselves.” Chaundra Eagar, Tutapona’s Director of Communications.   

See our partner in action by watching the video below. 


The Heroes Journey 

The Heroes Journey is a post-traumatic growth programme for war-affected children. The two-week intensive curriculum, led by local mental health professionals, goes through the characteristics of a hero. Up to 20 children at a time engage in the nine-session programme. Qualities like hope, belief, gratitude, kindness are fostered, and the participants gain the courage to combat shame and to forgive. 

With the right tools and access to safe places to process, children are overcoming high levels of adversity, developing resilience and have the potential to grow and live more fulfilled lives. 

Our partner has been able to provide 614 children with the skills and resources they need to improve their mental health, since the programme began in November 2022. 

Meet one of the heroes, Sabri 

Sabri explains how he lost his entire family at just two years old. “One day my father came home very angry, he shot my mother, my two sisters and my brother. I hid myself behind the curtain because I was afraid for my life. I still don’t understand why this happened, and now my father has gone to prison forever.” 

His uncle took Sabri in and cared for him as if he was his son. But when he was four years old disaster struck again. “ISIS came to our village. It was hard for my uncle to save me along with his family, but he took turns carrying me and his son on his shoulders as we fled,” describes Sabri, now 12. 

When the family reached Kabarto camp Sabri was introduced to the Heroes Programme. “I liked coming out with a group of friends and learning about my hero powers. I especially liked [learning about] hope and belief, and the bible story of Joseph. I realised I’m like him; Joseph grew up without parents, but he never lost hope. He never felt alone because God was with him the whole time. Now I know this to be true for me too.” 



GROW is a mental health programme designed for men and women left traumatised by extreme violence. They are guided by mental health professionals, through a process that seeks to develop qualities like hope, belief, gratitude, kindness and the courage to forgive.  

These tools coupled with a safe environment to grow, improves their overall well-being and reduces suicide rates. After the two-week programme, if participants need longer-term support, 1-1 counselling services are available to them. 

Graduates from the programme, report a 45% decrease in PTSD symptoms and a 72.1% improvement in well-being, according to the
WHO Five Well-Being Index. 

Jamila finds freedom through forgiveness

When ISIS invaded Syria, Jamila and her seven children fled their home on foot to another village. But when they arrived, there was no food, no water and no power and it was in the middle of winter. Amidst these trials she was also dealing with the grief of losing her 16-year-old son, who had died in a drowning accident. 

They fled again and eventually reached Kabarto camp. Tragedy struck her family for a second time when her daughter, disabled from birth, fell ill and died. 

“We have lived here for about 11 years now. I tried to be faithful to God, even though my dear daughter had been taken, too. I tried to understand why he was allowing these things to keep happening. I tried to be strong.” 

The Tutapona staff came and visited her in her tent and invited her to GROW, where she was able to process her pain and grief. 

“I really loved the session on belief, because it’s important to me to have a good relationship with God. I want to feel his love, instead of wondering why. I loved learning about the story of Joseph. Like him, my faith has saved me!  When we did the session on forgiveness, I learnt not to keep these things in my heart. I’m going to give everything to God, and I will forgive and be free.” 

In Iraq hope is rising

Surprisingly these are the words of people displaced after fleeing their homes from ISIS. 

Something amazing is happening as Iraqi men women and children, traumatised and displaced by the war with ISIS, are daring to believe in a better future. 

Iraqi-Kurdish recipe: Lamb Shish Kebabs 

Ingredients: Lamb diced into cubes, garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt & pepper, olive oil, lemon juice (Adjust these to own taste) 

1. Cut up lamb into roughly 3cm pieces, leave the fat that runs through it, there’s lots of flavour in that. 

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and give everything a good stir. 

3. Cover the bowl and leave to marinate for at least two hours. 

4. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before cooking and thread onto four skewers. (Flat metal skewers are best). 

5. It’s best cooked on a barbeque, but you can bake it in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 degrees. 

6. When the meat is nicely browned, remove from barbaque/oven and serve with flat breads, cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce and greek yogurt. 


We hope you enjoyed your visit to Iraq and were encouraged to see your donations in action!  

Next stop? Stay tuned.