This is Zain. We met him and his family on the outskirts of a remote village in Iraq. He lived on farmland but most of the crops and many of the cattle were no longer there. There was no maintained infrastructure, due to consecutive wars, violence, and political instability. The structures throughout the journey seemingly built with mud and not much else, were what many were calling home. We were expecting to find Zain in similar conditions. However, on the other side of a little fence was a home that was newly-built. It had several bedrooms, electricity, furniture and, most importantly, warm smiles.

Zain lost his father not long ago. Their home at the time was a series of small mud huts, similar to what we had witnessed throughout the journey.  With no income, Zain’s mother could not afford to rebuild the unsafe place they were living in. Once registered with Al-Ayn, Zain and his siblings began receiving monthly financial sponsorship support. A team from Al-Ayn’s local branch also registered the family’s eligibility for a new home which was soon built for the family.

Though most of the walls were still bare, a glaring addition to Zain’s new home was a row of 4 photos near the entrance. When  we asked about them, Zain’s mother shared that one of the photos was of her late husband. Next to him were photos of her 2 brothers and her cousin. They had all lost their lives tragically as victims of terrorism.

Our team were asked if they would like to see Zainal-Abideen’s old home. They didn’t have to go very far. The mud structures were still standing at the back of their new home!

Though Zain’s mother now has electricity, she still prefers to walk to the back and make delicious meals on their old ‘Tanoor’ (clay oven). In fact, like all the families our team visited, Zain’s generous mother insisted on offering tea and food to the whole team! Within moments, Zain appeared with a tray much too large for his small frame. The clay baked bread (pictured) was delicious!

Zain isn’t sure what he wants to be when he is older. He paused and thought about it for a moment. He then said “maybe a teacher”? What drives us and our supporters to give hope is gifting children like Zain a basic right to begin to dream of a better future. You too can give hope today.

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