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LDS Charities reaching out to Iraq

LDS Charities — the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — is partnering with other organizations to help those impacted by the crisis in Iraq.

The organization has provided medical supplies, equipment and food for Bajed Kandala 1 and Bajed Kandala 2, camps that serve internally displaced people targeted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

LDS Charities representatives also recognized a need to provide entertainment for the children in the camp — donating DVD players and CDs and DVDs. The equipment makes it possible to hold movie nights with “open-air cinema” that keep the children out of trouble.

However, now that cold weather has come, it is difficult to find a tent large enough to continue with nightly movies. So LDS Charities is helping in other ways.

When winter hit the Kurdish region of Iraq, the organization donated coats and blankets to those in the camps.

Nemam Ghafouri, a Muslim surgeon who runs the medical clinic at Bajed Kandala 2, said LDS Charities takes the time to know those it serves. “They understand the culture and they give what people need,” she said. “They see the problem and they see how the problem could be solved, and if they can help they help.”

For example, LDS Charities is working with other organizations to provide long, white dresses to the Yezidi women in the camps.

Bahar Ali, the project manager in the city of Erbil, Iraq, for AMAR — a British-based international charitable foundation — said the white dresses are an important part of the Yezidi identity. “This group of people had nothing to wear,” she said, noting that they fled their homes with just the clothes on their backs. “When they came their identity was at risk.”

The dresses, because of their traditional design and religious significance, couldn’t be purchased. They are not sold in a store or manufactured by a company. So the dresses are being made in the traditional method at a sewing center in Erbil, with fabric provided by LDS Charities.

“Fundamental to looking after someone is finding where they came from and what they need,” said Baroness Emma Nicholson, founder of AMAR.

Ghafouri said she saw joy in the faces of the women when they received their white dresses.

“They feel we are respecting them because we have brought something very special, very specific to them,” she said. “It is a simple gift but for them it means a lot.”

sarah@deseretnews.com