RisePoster1 RisePoster2
Dear all,
Winter is coming to Kurdistan, Iraq, where 1.2 million people have been displaced this year by the consequences of the war. A real war. Real people. One province of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Dohuk, hosts more than 820,000 displaced people. A lot of good work is happening, but the response is being overwhelmed by the sheer number of people seeking help.
We are working very hard to provide blankets to those families who will suffer hardest from the cold. To this end, we are about to launch an online campaign. Every £6.50/$10 USD you give will provide a high quality blanket to a family in need.
Rise Foundation has a small team of international staff, working alongside local volunteers and on-site coordinators. We favour a hands on, field based approach wherever possible, allowing us to respond quickly and appropriately to problems as they develop.
The campaign is scheduled to launch on Thursday 30th October.
We want to launch simultaneously so that this campaign trends on social media around the world, especially the #BuyABlanket hashtag.
– 6am Los Angeles
– 9am, New York
– 2pm London
– 5pm Baghdad
– 12am (midnight) Sydney
If you are not able to share this at a certain time, please feel free to share it at any time.
How can you help:
1. We ask for you to help us share this on your social networks
#BuyaABlanket #WinterIsComing @RiseFound
#WinterIsComing, 1.2 million people need your help. For £6.50 @RiseFound can deliver a blanket to a displaced family in need #BuyABlanket
#WinterIsComing, 1.2 million people need your help. For $10 @RiseFound can deliver a blanket to a displaced family in need #BuyABlanket
2. Donate on the Rise Foundation website http://rise-foundation.org/
3. Tell your friends and family.
Thank you very much for your support, I hope that you can help us.
Kind regards,



RisePoster1_fr RisePoster2_fr

Chers tous

L’hiver arrive en Irak, et plus spécialement au Kurdistan où 1,2 Million de personnes ont été déplacées cette année des conséquences de la guerre. Une vraie guerre, avec de vrais gens. Dohuk, l’une des provinces de la Région autonome du Kurdistan Irakien accueille à ce jour 820 000 personnes déplacées. De bonnes choses sont organisées pour elles via les différentes associations internationales ou locales, mais nous sommes actuellement submergés par le nombre de personnes nous appelant à l’aide.

Nous travaillons dur de façon à fournir des couvertures pour toutes ces familles qui s’apprêtent à endurer de nouvelles souffrances avec le froid qui les menace. A cette fin, nous nous préparons à faire une campagne en ligne pour les aider. Chaque $10 (8€) que vous nous donnerez nous permettra de fournir une épaisse couverture à une famille dans le besoin et à les protéger de l’hiver.

Rise Foundation est une petite équipe de volontaires internationaux, travaillant également avec des associations locales et différents coordinateurs de plus grandes associations internationalement reconnues (UNHCR, ACTED, ACF etc). Nous favorisons une action basée sur l’approche, dès qu’elle est possible, qui nous permette de répondre rapidement et efficacement aux problèmes tels qu’ils se développent.

Le début de la campagne est planifiée pour le Jeudi 30 octobre 2014.

Nous aimerions la lancer simultanément partout dans le monde de façon à obtenir un impact médiatique des plus importants et des résultats qui nous permettront d’atteindre un maximum de personnes. Le hashtag #BuyABlanket a été créé pour cette occasion.

– 06h à Los Angeles

– 09h à New-York

– 14h à Londres

– 15h à Paris

– 17h à Bagdad

– Minuit à Sidney

Si vous êtes dans l’incapacité de partager notre initiative à ce moment précis, sentez vous libre de le faire par la suite à n’importe quel moment !

Comment pouvez-vous aider:

1. En partageant sur vos réseaux sociaux l’annonce concernant notre campagne



#BuyABlanket #WinterIsComing @RiseFound

#WinterIsComing, 1,2 million de réfugiés ont besoin de votre aide. Pour 8€, @RiseFound peut distribuer une couverture à une famille dans le besoin #BuyABlanket

2. En faisant un don sur le site de Rise Foundation http://rise-foundation.org/

3. Parlez-en autour de vous (entreprises, amis, famille)

Merci beaucoup pour votre soutien, en espérant que vous pourrez nous aider.

Bien à vous,



Day 21 – Life in Iraqi Kurdistan

Day 21 – Life in Iraqi Kurdistan

October 27th 2014

Today i started my third week in Kurdistan and, the funny thing about it is that i’m also starting my second week as an immigrant, as my visa expired. I am currently waiting for my permanent residency card, and hopefully I will get it soon !

Rain has stopped in Erbil. The sun is back, but nights are getting colder day after day ! But at least the camps are not flooded anymore.

So, this week started with a photo exhibition in French Institute of Erbil. I went with my team worker Tom and met couple of known-faces over there. The exhibition was nice, and so was the buffet. I got to know Mr Ambassador, and most of all, got provided access to the library. As I have already read the two books I brought with me, I need to find some more books ! 🙂

Most of my week tasks was about moving stuff from Rise’s Dream City house to a new house in Ainkawa (the Christian area where Rise Foundation is moving its office to). Some food distributions also, but this week has been quite easy going to be honest. On friday we went to Akre camp once again for the Castle Art project, and I would not be able to explain why, but I have enjoyed that precise day more than any other so far ! Well, maybe because I really like those kids, but I was in a good mood, so were they, and all the way to get there was a fun trip. We even gave a lift to a hitch hiking peshmerga (Kurdish soldier) until Akre ! That’s kind of a cool experience.

It was very sunny and warm in Akre, and on Friday we were painting the playground next to the camp. As it usually happens, each volunteer receives a group of children he has to take care of, and my two girls were so kind and easy-going that it was easy for me to go around and talk with everybody. And then the little miracle happened. After a cupple of minutes I was talking with dozens of kids which were all so nice, and willing to learn anything I could teach them. Some of them were surprinsingly speaking a very good english, and would translate to the others my answers to their questions. After half an hour I had so many kids surrounding me ! And I began to teach them some english, first the numbers, I can tell now that they are nearly all about to count until ten, then we had a lesson about how to name parts of the body, about what surround them, trees, trucks, cars, sky, sun, earth. And in return they taught me what it meant in Kurdish. A perfect sharing time which I’m not about to forget !

By the end of the afternoon we went with Tom visiting a friendly family of his, and they were very happy because they finally got their asylum granted for Sweden ! ( Tack Sverige ! ). 300 hundred families are living in Akre, and thousands in the whole Kurdistan and most of them are looking for a better place where to live, so we can say that this family is very lucky as it’s very hard for all the refugees to get granted such a nice place where to go to !

On saturday, the weather was so amazing that I decided to go for a bike trip in the mountains, north east from Erbil. A 60 kms away from here starts the Safin mountain with a 1200 peak, and an astonishing view on both sides of the valley ! Definitly worth it to go, nature, fresh air and great shepherd to be met ! With Tom and Campbell (New Zeland guy that arrived a cupple of days ago) we plan to make another trip to Dukan lake, 120 kms from here. I’m really looking forward to it !

Today (monday) we received a first hundred blankets for the Kobane refugees, and we are expecting thousands more to come and to be distributed within the next weeks !

About the situation in Kurdistan at the moment, there is still not much happening. Zummar, a city in North West of Kurdistan has been taken back by the Peshmergas forces, and Kurds are now three cities from Mossoul, so it’s quite good news ! If everything goes well, there might be some evolution of the situation within the next weeks/months. Though the Sindjar area is still under a very strong blocus by ISIS, and thousands of Yezidi families are still stuck in the mountains..

Please have a look at the most recent pictures, and feel free to share this blog ! And if you want to help us with our work here, you can still make a donation on Rise Foundation’s website !

Greetings to you all ! Xavier-Loup

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Day 14 – Iraqi Kurdistan

Day 14 – Iraqi Kurdistan

October 20 th 2014

It has been two weeks now that I arrived in Iraq ! Life goes on, weather is changing, work remain to be the same, and helping refugees is still our main purpose of being here. Though this week it was a different kind of work we had to do as we had to make a fundraising for winter projects in the camps. That mean evening spent with fancy rich people, conference about the action of our organisation, and crossing fingers that companies or people would make a donation in order for us to buy supplies for the refugees. And so far it worked out pretty well, we have a budget for buying blankets and making food distributions in some camps.

Weather is changing a lot here, and quickly. When I arrived it was 35°c and very dry air, the last days there were daily thunderstorms and heavy rain. Luckily we have a roof over our heads, but this is unfortunatelly not the case for everyone in Kurdistan at the moment, and a lot of the tents from Khanki camp which we visited the other day, are now completely flooded… And the weather probably won’t evolve any better before a cupple of days at least. If I would be a believer I would make a pray for all those people, but I believe the only thing I can do today is to help in a more effective way by being present for those refugees that are now soaked wet.

Rise Foundation is moving its office and guest house to Ainkawa, the Christian area of Erbil, so this week we also had to make a half move out and hlf move in, as our contract for the current house ends at the end of the month. Work is on progress, but so far we’re all very happy and excited about the new house !

Heavy rain so, for sure not the best weather for riding a motorbike, but between two drops of water, I manage to visit some different areas and to ride around the city. It was only the 2nd time I was sitting on a bike, but after one day and with the good advices of Tom that also has one, I now manage with the gears, and it’s all good. A pure fun even ! I hope the rain will soon stop, first of all for all the refugees, but also because I would like to make a little trip in the mountains in the north of the country !

Today (monday 14th) we went to Gawilan camp (half way from Erbil to Mossul), met the manager and discussed about the most urgent needs for the refugees. Clothes ! As most of the people that fled from ISIS left with nothing else than the clothes they were wearing that day (and it was summer season), they are all suffering from cold at the moment, so we plan to make a clothing distribution next week.

In between two clouds, a little halo of sun on the other side of the desertic landscape. Behind the refugee camp, a hill, ten or fifteen kilometers from where my feet are touching the muddy ground, a hill that is run by the ennemies of Humanity. There, begins Islamic State territory. There, begins terror and destruction. And that single thought causes me cold sweat.

If you’re following the news at the moment, you have heard about Kobane, and the current situation… In Gawilan camp, it’s already 600 families that arrived last month from the martyr city of Syrian Kurdistan. And we are expecting the same amount of people to arrive within the next two weeks (in that single camp, and there are hundreds of camps in Kurdistan, so make your math).

About Kobane, if I only have one opinion about it, it is that Turkish government is making everything in order to hinder the Kurds, and this for a few reasons. First of all because YPG, the Kurdish fighters of Kobane are associated with PKK (the Kurdish fighters from Turkish side) and tboth are considered as terrorists organisation, by Turkey, but also by US and EU. Are you still following ? Erdogan (Turkish Islamo-conservative president) even said, « ISIS or PKK, for us it’s the same thing. »

Turkish army is all along the border with Kobane, with tanks and soldiers, watching the show going on. Dozens of journalists and reporters are daily reporting about the martyr of this city, and still no one is doing NOTHING. Geopolitics is not something easy, but when you understand the area, when you have notions about who’s with whom nor against whom, when everything is suppose to work out, but when nothing actually does, you feel just so useless and stupid being here, not being able to do nothing for them. Only watching stupidely this incredibly absurd situation.

Good point though, yesterday we were in Erbil and over our heads we heard and saw a massive plane which none of us reckon to be of any airline companies. To me it looked like one of those massive bomber plane from second world war which I have seen so many times in documentaries. This morning when we read the news we found out that this big plane actually was a US Army plane transporting weapons, ammos and supplies which were parachuted to the fighters of Kobane. Hopefully this will give them hope and help to hold the situation for a cupple of days, weeks more maybe …

We are not living on a pink and fancy cloud, that’s for sure. World is a piece of shit in some areas, and I can tell about it. But still I’m fine myself, I have a family and friends, I live in a country which has not been in war (on its territory at least) for over 70 years. I eat and drink whenever I need or want to, and I have a roof over my head tonight. But my stay over here teach me how difficult and complex some people’s life can evolve in just a few days. Optimism has alsways been my strenght, and I still have a shiny smile over my face today. I’m missing you all though 🙂


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Day 8

Day 8

Loads of stuff done for the past days, and for sure more big days ahead ! Everything is still fine for me, but since friday a lot happened, as we’ve been in a few areas in Kurdistan, visited many refugees camps, and drove through a lot of places ! First of all, as I was saying in my last post, we went to Akre camp site for the Castle Art Project. And that was a really great time which all of us enjoyed I am sure !

Friday : Akre’s camp is a massive concrete block which use to be Saddam’s military base in the area and is now visited weekly by Rise Foundation:) We don’t provide food nor supplies in that camp especially, but we like to entertain the kids which are half of the population of the camp, by painting the walls. – Look at the pictures of what has been done down the article – Each of the volunteers received an assigned kid and had to supervise what they are doing, watching carefully that they are not painting bad stuff mainly;) A few hours later, there was 50 cartoons painted by from 8 to 15 years old Syrian refugees with a lot of colors, smiles and happiness which means a lot for us, and for them first of all of course ! If of course we could do some food distribution instead of that, there are other bigger associations with more funds that are already in charge with that. But to provide happy time to children that are stuck in a camp for over a few years for some of them, that has no price !

Saturday was free day for us. We drove a few hours until near the border of Iran in Rawanduz to visit some caves. Interesting day, more relaxed than the others, and where I really get to know my other working partners, which I can now say that they became good friends. Beautiful Kurdistan, landscapes, people, clothes and nature. Beside all the durts that people are throwing away everywhere, and the ugly architecture of the brick houses, it was really enjoyable. And for me, to be so close to Iran again meant a lot, as so far in a 5 years of traveling all around the planet, this country remains to be my favorite:)

Sunday. Tough day. Emotionally strong, and even if I was prepared for it, visiting a refugee camp that is so massive that you can’t see the end of it from your own eyes, isn’t the most happy time you could have over here. We drove all the way to Dohuk, one of the biggest city of Kurdistan, met the local governor who explained us about the situation, and especially about what he needs most of all. A very interesting meeting as the guy seem to be really into his job, and he is doing an incredible one, and for sure not of the easiest, as coordinating, feeding, and supplying half a million of refugees is not an easy task.

On our way to Dohuk, most of the non-finished buildings are now inhabited by refugees from Syria or Iraq. Kurdish mainly, but also Arabs families and a lot of Yezidis ! The camp we visited that day is Khanki (or Khanke), and is over populated by 65.000 yezidis people that flad from ISIS in august. If you remember about the Sindjar crisis, the yezidis which is a minority of Iraq (500 thousands more or less) were hunted, murdered and expelled from their villages. And if the PKK (Turkish Kurdish Milicia) would not have saved them, they would all have been murdered by ISIS.

During the day we spent in Khanki, we took a lot of pictures, we spoke to many people, and hear some very strong testimonies from families that fled. I will not write here so much about it as those stories are very strong, and very hard to handle once you’ve been told. But I will tell you that all those people had to flee with nearly nothing, no clothes, no food, no water, no papers for most of them as ISIS progresses in Sindjar in august was very fast. All those people, and you might have heard about them in the news as all the medias were focused on them during 2 weeks or something, had to hide in the mountains, and walk on hundreds of kilometers under a 50°c hit. For a majority of those yezidis, they have lost close friends or members of their families, the men systematically killed, the women raped and sold as slaves on Mosul market.

Among all those refugees, a massive cloud of childrens are constantly surrounding us, very smily kids, some with incredible bright eyes (like the Afghan girl with blue eyes from Steve McCurry picture). Some are traumatized from what they have lived, but most of them are really kind, always trying to talk with us, cutely holding our hands, or trying to climb you as little monkeys:)

Temperature in Kurdistan is still fine, but winter is very strong here, and in less than one month, all those kids, all those families and all those people are going to suffer very hard from the cold. I hope that my presence here will help at least some of them to survive from the terrible situation and conditions which they are currently facing…

We spent the night at Silav’s place, a Kurdo-American girl who helped us during those 2 days with her friend Amy (British) for the translation with the locals.

Monday : Now we are going to another city of Kurdistan, closer to Syria and Turkey, called Zakho. Over there, same shitty situation, but no camp. Just refugees living in miserable condition in non-finished buildings, in parks, and in schools. This last place is actually a major problem for Kurdistan and its local inhabitants as most of the children could not go to school this year as the classrooms are full of refugees. Once again, visiting camps, talking with people, asking them what they need at most, and meeting local coordinators. Productive two days, but I would become crazy if I had to do that everyday, as it’s really not easy to handle the looks of thousands of people asking and claiming for help, all at the same time.

Back to Erbil.

Tuesday :

I bought a motorbike !


Day 2

Day 2 :

All good here ! I am well arrived in Erbil, and visited a few areas already with other workers from the NGO. We are living in the so called « dream city » a little bit boring place as it’s manly rich people living here, and there is no soul at all in the area. But we’re not living far from « Ainkawa » the Christian area where it seem to be much more living !

Yesterday was a very interesting time as we went on food and supplies distribution in two different refugees camps. The Yezidi community which I have been following in the news since the crisis of june had to flee from everywhere ISIS were chasing them and if most of them found refuge in Dohuk Governorate, there are some that arrive to Erbil as well. The first camp we went to is inhabitate by Yezidis. I was quite fascinated, as I have a special and personal link to them, as their beliefs is close to Zoroastrianism, the former religion of Persia before the Arabs invasions. Anyway, they definitly live in pretty shitty conditions as most of them had to flee from their houses, villages and ancestral land in a few minutes from ISIS with nothing, and had to walk through mountains and deserts on hundreds of kilometers without any food nor water. It was good to see the smiles of all those childrens when they saw us arriving with the van full of food and supplies !

The second giving was with Kurdish families that fled from Mossul. There are like those 20 families we helped that day, thousands of others living in such desperate conditions all around Kurdistan (and not only). Loads to do !

I had the opportunity to go to the city-center of Erbil as we were looking for stuff to buy for the association. Erbil’s center is quite an impressive place ! A huge citadel builded with millions of bright brown bricks and established straight in the middle of Erbil, and all the city is harmonized on that circle design. Restored buildings, fountains, loads of shops, bazaars and restaurants, a very nice place where to be despite the heavy trafic that is apparently going on all the days long here. It’s incredible the time we can lose on the roads, waiting at trafic lights, or just stuck into massive trafic jams…

I am staying with 3 British guys aged from 25 to 29, with whom I am getting quite well along so far, and a New-Zeland girl shall arrive tonight. A little bit tough sometimes to understand everything they are saying as I was in French mode speaking the last 2 months, but still we manage easily to understand each others. Beers and jokes helping !  😉

Apparently thursdays here are the parties night, and I’m looking forward meeting other expats and get to know more Erbil and its night-life. Friday plan is to go to Akre refugee camp, 2 hours driving from here. Rise Foundation has begun an art project with childrens for 5 months, and they organize sessions with childrends for painting up all the complex of an old Saddam military base. Amazing rehabilitation for such a freaky building !

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More picture to be uploaded soon !

Day 1 – Arrival in Iraqi Kurdistan

Diary in Iraqi Kurdistan


Iraqi Kurdistan day 1 :

So here begins the new adventure : Kurdistan.

After 2 flights from Paris to Ankara via Istanbul, a few busses in between, and a lost luggage during two days, I am now taking the third plane of the week in order to reach Erbil, capital city of autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. It’s night and the plane is only 1/3 filled by mostly Kurds or Arabs. I can see from the window the lights of Turkish cities, and with my GSM check when I am entering Iraq’s border. On the way to Erbil, having a look outside through the window shows me the lights of Mossul, 2nd biggest city of Iraq which is in ISIS hands since june… Freaky.

It has been a long while I wanted to see that area, and finally manage to get there. Thanks to contacts and friends I found an association for which I can volunteer, and for the first day I have spent with its members, I think I will get pretty well along with them.

If ever you are interested into making a donation for our organisation, you can found the link of the website right here, aswell as informations about what we are doing here.

Rise foundation

Key words : ISIS : Islamic State in Iraq & Syria