Organized under the “Soccer Salam” banner, a coalition including the Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) and three other U.S.-based charities today kicked off a social media campaign to mobilize emergency winter aid to Iraqi families fleeing violence and to deliver 1,000 soccer balls to vulnerable Iraqi children who deserve a chance to play.
“The winter needs in Iraq are urgent,” said Jonathan Webb, Chairman of the Iraqi Children Foundation. “Those of us who served in Iraq came to love the most vulnerable and voiceless children of that country and they are suffering. We have to act now. The time is short.”
Erik Gustafson, founder of another member of the team, the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), added: “Two million Iraqis – including hundreds of thousands of children – have been forced to flee their homes this year. Now these innocent victims of violence are facing a second major threat: winter.”
“In 2007, Iraq overcame massive odds to win the Asia Cup, uniting Iraqis across the country and inspiring us to found Goals and Dreams,” said Sean Atkins. “Children in communities fractured by violence are easily drawn into the fray as they grow up, with few outlets to step outside its destructive cycle. Sport is unique in its ability to bring people and communities together.”
Another Soccer Salam coalition leader, Rick Burns of Karadah Project International, observed: “It is easy to look at crises around the world as distant, macro events. Unfortunately, each of the estimated 2 million displaced Iraqis has a face and a name. They are involuntarily displaced into harsh conditions, often with small children and limited access to assistance. Soccer Salam is focusing its efforts on those in greatest need.”
The Iraqi Children Foundation and the Soccer Salam coalition express their deep appreciation to the MBC Heritage of Islam Trust, the Khudairi Group, Lake Oswego Rotary, and DynCorp International for their generous sponsorship donations, and to American Rec, Franklin Sports, Northwest Woolen Mills, and YRC Freight for their assistance with the logistics and supplies for Iraqi children and families in need. Businesses or organizations interested in sponsoring should contact email@example.com
For further information, visit http://soccersalam.org/