DC Area Foundation Reopens Baghdad Center for Street Children

December 19, 2011

FALLS CHURCH, VA, Dec. 19, 2011 – The Sponsor Iraqi Children Foundation (SICF) today announced that it secured the reopening of the Baghdad Center for Street Children in Iraq.  The center was closed last summer when a major source of funding ran out, leaving many Iraqi street children without access to a safe haven for basic needs.  After receiving an appeal for assistance, SICF agreed to provide the resources needed to reopen the children’s center while additional, on-going funding is sought. The actions of SICF are made possible through the generosity of the Foundation’s donors and committed volunteers.

“SICF is delighted to have played a part in helping to reopen this vitally important resource for street children in Baghdad,” said SICF President Maxwell Quqa. “The Center is operated by a local Iraqi human rights organization that understands the serious risks facing street children.”

Many orphans beg on the streets or sell water to help poor widowed mothers or siblings. They are very vulnerable to arrest for begging as well as to recruitment or abuse by criminals, extremists and human traffickers.

Prior to closing last summer, the Baghdad Center provided street children with healthy meals as well as tutoring in math, reading, writing, and science. The children were introduced to computers and had an opportunity to participate in art, music and theater. Center staff helped to get children who were dropouts to reenroll in school.  Given that approximately 1 in 6 Iraqi children under the age of 18 is an orphan, safe havens like the Baghdad Center for Street Children provide a vitally needed service.

“Iraq’s orphan crisis, which involves an estimated 2.5 million children, is one of the most critical issues facing the future of Iraq,” Quqa said. “Providing hand-up assistance to help the Iraqi people deal with this crisis is not only the right humanitarian response, but it is also the right thing to do for Iraq’s future stability and that of the Middle East region.”

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** Photos of the Baghdad Center for Street Children’s reopening celebration are available by contacting cindy@sicfiraq.org or (703) 635-7990.

The mission of the Sponsor Iraqi Children Foundation is to assist the families and communities of Iraq by mobilizing a life-changing “Surge of Love” for millions of children orphaned by violence in Iraq. SICF is committed to doing this under the leadership of the Iraqi people by: 1) serving as a catalyst to mobilize US and international partners; 2) investing in training and capacity building of Iraq’s non-governmental and community organizations; and, 3) emphasizing direct assistance for hand up, not hand out, projects. For more information, please visit www.sifciraq.org.

Cindy Fogleman