From the Field | Winter Brings Added Anxiety in Iraq

Vernon Brewer

The World Help team began our day delivering life-saving aid in the Baharka camp, home to 5,000 displaced Iraqis.

Most of these families are from Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, which fell to ISIS last year. I couldn’t help but marvel that just months earlier, the broken people in this camp belonged to a thriving metropolis bustling with opportunity.

Today, they were humbled just to receive a modest bag of food and supplies.

Watch From the Field: Iraq | Meeting Humanitarian Needs One Life at a time on Vimeo

Their situation is truly heartbreaking. Unable to work legally, they have no way to earn an income to care for their families. Some are lucky to find under-the-table work, but what little they earn is never enough to sustain them. They rely solely on the charity of government aid groups and NGOs for survival . . . which for the most part, have left the area.

These people live in a vacuum of time and emotional energy. So many have suffered the traumatic loss of loved ones to the brutality of ISIS, and now they have the added burden of their current situations. They have no way to save or plan for whatever is next. They have nothing to their names. Their futures are a hollow expanse of hopelessness.

But World Help’s presence in the Baharka camp today brought small glimpses of hope. Families waited patiently to collect their bags of supplies from our team. Each one thanked us with incredible humility . . . but the privilege was truly all ours.


From Baharka, our team traveled to another local community of 4,000 Internally Displaced Persons. Supplies here had dwindled to an all-time low. I was shocked by the lack of provisions, but I soon learned this was not the primary concern among these refugees.

In fact, only one thought was prevalent on their minds: surviving the winter.

They have every reason to fear. The majority of them have already survived the winter of 2014 living in a tent city and spoke from their nightmarish experiences.


“It wasn’t human. Living in a tent during the freezing winter is not meant for humans. It was terrible. But there’s nowhere to go. [There are] no options,” they told us.

I spoke with a young father named Bashram Ali who was fearful of what the winter would mean for his family. He and his wife fled an ISIS attack with their five children in the middle of the night. They were in such a hurry; Bashram forgot to grab his ID card. They literally piled into a car and began driving as fast as they could.


They eventually found themselves in this refugee community with nothing but the clothes on their backs—no food, water, blankets, not even a form of identification! Today, they live in a plastic tent that barely protects them from the rapidly plummeting temperatures.

Bashram told us his only concern right now is to make sure his family survives the winter.

Tragically, his story is far from unique. He is one of hundreds of thousands of refugees who will soon find themselves tormented by bitter cold and snowfall.

No one—especially children—should have to endure this kind of physical and emotional torture.


The need in Iraq is so great. However, there is hopeful news: We can do something about this crisis. We are strategically positioned to act, but we desperately need your help to reach these people with life-saving aid immediately.

Our partners on the ground are sharing the resources these families need to survive the winter—wood-burning stoves, kerosene, blankets, coats, shoes, and so much more. We’ll be assessing their situations throughout the winter, identifying areas of need as they arise. We are committed to standing by them in their darkest hours—whatever it takes.


Will you help me care for these innocent children and families? I cannot emphasize enough how little time we have left to act before winter hits full force. Rain is turning to snow, and too many children are still wandering around in only sandals and threadbare clothing.

Your gift to provide winter supplies can save lives. Please join World Help in being the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus to the battered refugees of Iraq. Pray for miracles, and make your best gift today to protect these people from the cold. They need the warmth you and I each have to offer.