Art of Living steps up relief work in Sinjar in Iraq

Bangalore, India
7th November 2014

Gurudev to visit the relief camps on 19th-20th November

The International Association for Human Values, a sister concern of The Art of living along with few NGO’s in Iraq have collected 110 tonnes of food supplies to be delivered to Yazidi refugees on Sinjar mountains. So far the volunteers of the organization have air lifted One and a half ton of relief material to be distributed in the relief camps. Meanwhile, the airlifting of relief material continues. 

The Art of living Founder , Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had earlier called on Governments of Europe, America and India to save the thousands of Yazidis trapped in the Sinjar Mountains In Iraq. “America has heeded to our call of help and yesterday they obliged with two helicopters to airlift One and a half tonnes of food grains. We still have several tonnes of food grains waiting to be lifted to the people trapped in the Sinjar mountains,”shared Gurudev.

Gurudev will be visiting the relief camps where IAHV will also hold a conference in the Kurdish capital of Erbil on November 20th titled "Protecting Women and Bringing Stability and Peace". Thousands of Christians, Yazidis and Kurdish Shias are languishing in camps in Erbil, Duhok and Khazir. 

Appealing for generous contribution, Mawahib Shaibani, Program Director, IAHV, for Iraq said, “Currently, the people in the relief camps lack basic items for survival, such as food, clothing and hygienic kits. They are in a very poor psychological state. We have proposed the establishment of an integrated educational program in the province to help the Yazidis students at the Camp and outside it, therefore we need stationery for the students. We have also proposed setting up of toilets and bathrooms. We also plan to provide basic foodstuff to the Camp periodically.” 

Since the early stages of the ISIS insurgence in Iraq, over 1.5 million Iraqis have been internally displaced or forced to flee across borders for their safety. The Art of Living and International Association For Human Values of The Art of Living has been working to bring relief to refugees and internally displaced people (IDP). From its base in Erbil, the team has brought relief in the form of food, water and hygiene products to 5 different camps, each camp sheltering 550 Iraqi families. IAHV has reached more than 2,000 families.

Art of living work in Iraq: The Art of Living made a commitment to spread the message of peace and non-violence in Iraq. Since September 2003 when Art of Living began trauma relief initiatives, around 10,000 people from Iraq have found relief from the stress-elimination breathing techniques.

Adding momentum to the initiatives, and with an aim of healing the wounds of war, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visited Iraq from May 21 to May 24, 2007 with his message of peace and non-violence. It was for the first time that an Indian spiritual leader was officially invited by the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Gurudev signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Youth Ministry under which The Art of Living offered special leadership programs for Iraqi youth.  Along with Mr. Sayed Abdallah Al Musawi, a leading Iraqi religious leader, he distributed certificates to women who have completed training in tailoring skills at the Art of Living’s Women Empowerment Center in Baghdad. The center has been empowering hundreds of Iraqi women providing them financial independence through vocational training.

Despite volatile conditions, Gurudev visited the country for the second time in less than two years, reaffirming his commitment to rebuild Iraq and galvanize people to work towards a stress-free and violence-free Iraq.55 Iraqi youth were sent by the government of Iraq for a month-long training conducted by the Art of Living Foundation from August to September 2007. 699 women survivors of violence in Baghdad and 240 in Kurdistan received training to relieve stress and trauma and skills to cope with life’s challenges under the Al Azhar Program.224 women have received vocational training in tailoring and 117 in computers. 33 women have been trained by IAHV and USAID on applying for jobs through Foras and to find placement with 400 private companies.