2024 Medical Mission
Mosul, Iraq

Meet Ahmed, 11 years old and Hassan, 7 from the town of Tal-Afar in Mosul. Both boys are from the Turkmen ethnic minority which largely resided in Tal Afar and neighboring towns.

Tal Afar is part of the disputed territories between the central Government of Iraq (GoI) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

As a result, it is ripe with corruption, ethnic tension and marginalization of its communities. Tal Afar also gained a notorious reputation as being a hotbed of extremism first under al-Qaida and then ISIS.

When ISIS arrived Ahmed and Hassan’s families had to choose, either pledge allegiance to the extremist group or run for their lives. They ran. Once ISIS was defeated they return to destroyed homes, limited infrastructure, jobs or sources of livelihood. To add insult to injury the stigma that followed Tal Afar post-ISIS resulted in limited support for the community to rebuild.

Veterans Rebuilding Life’s partner, the Iraqi Institution for Development (IID), operates in Tal Afar with funding from the United Nations and the European Union working on improving community cohesion through income generation, literacy and education projects. This is how one of IID’s facilitators met the families of the two boys.

Both Ahmed and Hassan were bright-eyed and eager to go to school but were prevented because of their medical conditions.

Ahmed had cerebral palsy and needed surgery to repair the nerves on his legs allowing him to walk again. Hassan needed eye surgery to treat his strabismus. Without these surgeries Ahmed’s motor skills would irreversibly decline, as would Hassan’s eyesight.

Veterans Rebuilding Life, the Iraqi Institution for Development, and Without Borders – a partner non-profit supported by Iraqi Americans, split the cost three ways. Both boys underwent successful surgeries and are back to school. We wish them a bright future as their town rebuilds itself.