The ‘Enterprise and Training Center’ project in Khanke, Duhok, Iraq

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“Since the inception of the Free Yezidi Foundation, it has become unmistakably evident that conventional humanitarian aid often perpetuates cycles of dependency. It's imperative to shift our focus towards initiatives that foster economic empowerment and self-sufficiency. My vision for the ETC is to empower women and female survivors through comprehensive training, enabling them to rejoin their communities as leaders, decision-makers, and breadwinners for their families. This program stands as a testament to effective, tangible change on the ground.”
Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
What the Judges said

The judges were impressed by the ‘Enterprise and Training Center’ for the “agency it offers women in a traumatised community whose need is huge, given the genocide experienced by them and the sexual violence they incurred in the 2014 campaign by the terrorist regime ISIS against northern Iraq’s Yezidi ethno-religious minority and the consequent stereotyping and shame. The judges liked the fact that the Center is refugee-led, self-sufficient – and effective, providing skills training such as business management with proven effectiveness demonstrated by the examples of its bakery and toy-making enterprises as well as literacy classes. “Its objectives are clear: it is participatory in nature – as evidenced by both users and staff – and it combines holistic support and an activities approach with imperative advocacy work. It is also operating in a very difficult context,” they said.

What Beneficiaries say . . .

“Two months ago, I joined an English course at the ETC. Learning English has greatly helped me. I can understand English lectures, read books, and learn more from online English resources. It has also improved my communication skills for future job opportunities.” – Sozan Haji, student

“After all the trauma we have experienced due to the genocide, our life in the camp has been difficult because our mental health isn’t good. We keep overthinking and worrying about our lives and those we’ve lost or who are missing. After becoming a beneficiary at FYF’s ETC, I have found a way to stop overthinking by using my skills to hand make stuffed animals. As I craft the products, I lose myself in my work and forget all about my worries, while making an income to support my family. I am proud and encouraged to work at the ETC because FYF is led by Yezidi women. FYF has greatly contributed to my development as a person, as I now believe in myself and my skills more.” – Hala, artisan

“I enrolled in the computer course to improve my digital skills, as they teach us how to use many computer programs. Also, I’ve made new friends since coming here, which is beneficial for my psychological wellbeing. My instructor clearly explains the lessons. And I hope that more courses will continue in the future.” – Zahra, student

. . . and staff

“I’ve been working in Iraq for many years and I’ve never before seen an initiative like the ETC – a safe space run by vulnerable women, for vulnerable women. It is encouraging to see the positive impact the ETC has on the overall wellbeing of its beneficiaries. I hope such initiatives can be expanded to other regions of Iraq in the near future.” –  Olivia Wells, Programs Director

“The ETC is a unique initiative – never before implemented in Iraq. Its holistic approach ensures that the compounding vulnerabilities faced by displaced women and survivors are addressed in a sustainable and survivor-centered manner.” – Hewan Omer, Country Director

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do, and this is what we are doing at the ETC; we are making our products with a lot of love and dedication.” – Khalida Nawaf Ilyas, Livelihoods Manager

The Other 2024 Finalists, and Winners

Ockenden International’s four cash prizes recognise and reward innovative projects that deliver evidential self-reliance to refugees and/or displaced people, the cornerstone of Ockenden International since its inception in 1951. The four annual prizes are open to projects or programmes focused on Internally Displaced People (IDPs)/refugee self-reliance anywhere in the world. The other nine 2024 finalists (with the other three winners italicised) are: