Wadi-Newsletter Summer 2022

Updates about the activities of Wadi and our partners in 2022 with news from Iraq, Greece, Ukraine and Poland.


Dear Friends and Supporters of Wadi,

The last six months have been a very active time here at Wadi! Our teams and partners have been back at what they do best, support, promote, and engage with local communities on the most pressing issues that matter to them.  We have talked with communities and in response to overwhelming changing realities of climate change launched an incredible series of  pilot projects that recycle single use plastic bottles in Kurdistan and in Lesvos, Greece. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February creating a wave of refugees, mostly women and children fleeing to safety in neighboring countries, we were able to support local NGOs in setting up safety systems for these vulnerable persons.  It really has been an incredibly busy year for Wadi so far, here we share the highlights:

Recycling and Upcycling single use Plastics in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq:

Environmental alarm is finally happening all over the Middle East, and historically Iraq as a major oil producer was not a place where ‘green’ policies and ideas were popular for decades. But, the undeniable drastic effects that climate change is having on the area are too severe to be ignored. Even in a place where oil is cheap, citizens are realizing that it is extremely polluting and eventually those resources will run out. People are realizing the negative effect that plastic waste, non-recycled trash, trash burning, are having on their lives. Young people especially are keenly aware through the power of social media and seeing movements of youth across the globe working on climate change.

Kurdistan in particular has been hit with terrible droughts the past two years and this year is no exception, with water at catastrophic levels. The situation has led to such terrible water management issues that a cholera outbreak occurred in June. Faced with these far reaching systemic issues, it can be completely overwhelming and it can feel almost impossible to know when to start how to change things, and feel as though you are making a difference. At Wadi we have been working for years on this environmental projects  through our #keepkurdistangreen campaign and with our partners such as NWE Organization in Halabja through the  #GreencityHalabja campaign which has been highly successful to be the first city to ban single use plastic bags and to Green local community spaces, schools and create parks that demonstrate local herbs and sustainable local parks.

A new pilot project as part of the environmental push and in cooperation with NGO ShredUP, has been setting up collection points for single use plastic bottles and the building a new plastic shredding machine that then upcycles that into molded plastic goods. This is a project that pushes for awareness of the detrimental effects that single use plastics have on the environment. Particularly plastic bottles for water and soft drinks that are ubiquitous in Northern Iraq which does not always have consistent access to clean drinking water.  These bottles are often found littered all over roads and other places, choking the natural resources. The project works by first educating the local community, schools, businesses, universities, marketplaces about the long lasting harm of plastic waste. Then simultaneously plastic collection points are set up in high traffic areas, and a center or workshop for shredding and upcycling is set up, or an agreement to ship the plastic to a recycling facility is set up.

The response to this project is overwhelmingly positive, and has been requested all over Kurdistan. If you would like to support this project or help fund a new one please donate here.

Supporting the Moria White Helmets & Building a Single Use Plastic Bottle Recycling Center in Lesvos Greece:

Our close partners, the Moria White Helmets are one of the few refugee self-organizations in Greece. They play a crucial role inside the camp in Lesvos and offer a wide range of programs and services for their fellow camp residents.

In March 2020, a Syrian/ Arab self-organization was founded as a response to the covid-pandemic, with the ambition for refugees to take a more active role in the Moria Refugee Camp – the largest center for asylum seekers in Europe-  in fixing their current issues. The Moria White Helmets projects and actions follow the motto that “as long as we have hands, we can do it as it is our duty to keep each other safe”.

Currently, within the Mavrovouni Camp structure on Lesvos, the Moria White Helmets conduct a variety of projects developed and adapted to meet the ever changing needs on the island. The Moria White Helmets in Lesvos, Greece have been working on waste management which has been a 3 year collaborative project with camp management to improve the living conditions for all living within the camp and its predecessor, Moria camp, partnered with weekly cleanings of the local community areas for environmental protection Building on the success of the pilot recycling project in Northern Iraq, Wadi has been providing support and guidance to launch a similar plastic shredding and upcycling center in Lesvos. This project needs ongoing support, if you would like to donate directly via paypal please follow this link.

#Safeaid #Helpresponsible setting up safety systems for Ukrainiens fleeing the war:

From March to May 2022 Wadi supported the and advocated for the immediate implementation of safety systems to provide a record and background checks on hosts of arriving Ukrainian women and children. The project acknowledged that attempts to house Ukrainian civilians evacuating to safety is a logistical behemoth.

At the time 80% of Ukrainian evacuees were women and children, at extreme risk of trafficking and abuse. In the attempt to help as many people as quickly as possible a lot of chaos is created, this chaos and lack of systems, checks, and documentation creates an ideal environment for malicious actors to prey upon frightened, exhausted and desperate women.

When we talk about malicious actors we are referring to human traffickers, organised crime rings, sexual predators among others. Wadi worked with a network with local NGOs, to sound the alarm and calling for safety systems to be put in place by local NGOs who are much better suited to respond in such situations than large international ones. On the ground in Krakow we are assisting local NGOs in coordinating and setting up systems for managing this crisis working to support them by sharing our knowledge and expertise.

More than blankets and old shoes, these women and children need to be safe, and for there to be a record of where they went, when and with whom. This project also reached out to local and international media to amplify and warn about the dangers that arriving Ukrainian women and children face. This project has now shifted to a different phase but between March and May 2022 was able to provide verified house housing through the online platform for 9079 people.

Support for “Martyinka” a Helpline for Ukrainian Women Fleeing the war:

We were contacted by Ukrainian women who wanted to organize themselves to help others. One of these groups is called Martynka and offers a 24/7 helpline and bot service on Telegram and Instagram. The idea, according to co-founder Nastia Podorozhnia, is best summed up as a “trusted friend” for Ukrainian women in Poland:

“Wherever you are and whatever you are experiencing, whether on the train, at the border, with the police or in a Polish city: you have a friend who accompanies you: Martynka. And you can see it in the picture: Martynka has a sword to protect you.”

The Martynka app has other features as well. She can also help with translations. “You”, i.e. a Martynka employee, can virtually accompany women to visits to the doctor or to the police. She can arrange contacts ranging from medical, psychological and legal advice to support in finding a job.

More and more women who have been raped by Russian soldiers are turning to us. We are therefore building a network with psychologists to look after these women and offer them help,” Nastia Podorozhnia writes to us.

And she has a message that we love to convey: “Whatever happens, we don’t want you to see us as poor victims, needy refugees. Ukrainian women are strong and Martynka represents this strength. We want you to help us as weorganize ourselves!

This is the message from all Wadi partners in all countries where we work. And so we have many plans to continue supporting Martynka in the future. So far we have been able to finance flyers and stickers that are now being put up in Lviv, at the border and in Kraków wherever there are women from Ukraine. If you want to read more about this initiative please click here.

All these programs and projects run in Polish, Ukrainian and English under the hashtags #safeaid and #helpresponsible. We would like to sincerely thank the American Jewish Committee and Solingen hilft e. V. for their  support.

Thank you for your interest, and support of our various projects! We continue to work on ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), ending violence against children, support for independent media, public health, women’s empowerment, and refugee issues. For more about our ongoing work please follow our daily updates through our Facebook page and our Instagram account.

Please also have a look at our recently released 2021 Acitivity Report!

Thank you for your continuous support and we wish you a pleasant summer.

Isis Elgibali on behalf of all Wadis