In 1998, I began the Iraq Family Relief Fund, a nonprofit, donor-based Fund for impoverished Iraqi families in Baghdad. I have a deep, personal connection with each of the families served by the Iraq Family Relief Fund, and am committed to helping them improve their lives and eventually become self-sufficient. From 1997-2003, I made 9 trips to Iraq with different humanitarian organizations and peace groups. It was during these trips that I met and bonded with several families in Baghdad. (For more information about the Fund, please visit http://iraqfamilyrelief.blogspot.com/ )
You can send your donation to my home address:
George Capaccio 11 Lennon Road Arlington, MA 02474
Please make your check payable to Family Relief Fund or Iraq Family Relief Fund. Any amount is welcome.
Currently, my aim is to raise a minimum of $10,000.00 to keep the Iraqi Family Relief Fund solvent for the next year. I plan to set aside $2,000.00 of this amount for "Nawal," a single Iraqi mom who wishes to establish a beauty salon in her home. Her dream is to become financially independent so that she will no longer need to rely on the support I send her, and will also be able to help her sisters, whose situations are even more desperate. “Nawal” has 5 children under her wing. Her first husband died in the first Gulf War of 1991. Her second husband, who abandoned her in 2003, provides no child support.
Despite the invasion and occupation of Iraq, I continued to raise money for these families, whom I haven't seen since 2003 but with whom I am in regular contact via telephone. As Iraq has faded from the headlines of our major news outlets, I've found it harder and harder to maintain my donor base even while the families continue to need support for their most basic needs: medical costs; educational expenses; food and shelter.
It should be noted that despite the official ending of the US occupation of Iraq, the security situation has not substantially improved. Car bombs are a continuing threat. The kidnapping of children remains a serious problem. There is high unemployment coupled with rising prices for food staples. Given these circumstances, I am determined to continue my support for the families I know and care for.
Since I began the Iraq Family Relief Fund, the generosity of donors has made the following benefits possible:
- Chemotherapy drugs for a mother of 8 children in Baghdad suffering from breast cancer.
- Toiletries, bedding, and clothing for "Saad," a young man who endured 3 years of torture in an Iraqi jail for an alleged kidnapping that never in fact took place.
- The purchase of similar items for "Hasan," another young man who, like his cousin "Saad" was also imprisoned unjustly, tortured, and forced to pay bribes to his jailors who otherwise would not have allowed his family to visit him.
- Passports and visas for "Leila" and her 3 children who sought refuge in neighboring Jordan; rent and utilities for their apartment in Amman, Jordan; cost of surgery and hospitalization for "Leila" while she was in Amman awaiting re-settlement in the US.
- Regular monthly stipends for food, medicine, heating fuel, and cooking gas for all the families.
- Purchase and repair of a used car one of the breadwinners drove as a taxi in order to support his family.
- Tuition and course books for his niece's enrollment in an optometry program.
- Back surgery for "Amir," , the husband of "Suha"; emergency blood transfusion for Alia, one of Suha’s sisters.
- Repair of household windows damaged by car bombs.
- School bags, copybooks, and new clothes for the children.
- Legal fees for the families of the two young men held in Iraqi jails; dental work for both children and adults.
- Medical emergencies.
(Please note: I've changed the names of family members to protect their privacy.)
I sent cash remittances to the families in Baghdad through Western Union. Although I can't offer tax deductions, approximately 95% of donations goes directly to the families. I use the balance to cover operating expenses like Western Union transfer fees, mailing fundraising letters, and purchasing stationary for fundraising purposes.
I hope you will find it within your heart to help me continue my support for these families. Any amount will be entirely welcome.
Many, many thanks. And may the coming holiday season bring you the incomparable joy that comes with caring.