A home in Northern Iraq


“Harman” is Kurdish for “That, what endures.”


In the following years 2015 and 2016, we kept coming across intense cases, proving to us that our standing aid programs were just not enough. They were mostly orphans and semi-orphans, who after years of enslavement by the Islamic State were either bought free by surviving family members or liberated by the engaging Kurdish Army. A mother describes her 11 years-old son after his return: “He fights the trauma like a blag fog in his head. I can’t let him be by himself. I don’t know what do and there is no-one willing to help me.”



In the autumn of 2016 Our Bridge begins the construction of a building serving as open center for all participants of the Our Bridge guardian program: A safe shelter for orphans and widows, medical prevention- and medical aid programs and a treatment program for traumatised and refugee children.
A place to be called home just a few hundred meters away from the UN refugee camp in Khanke - built on a small hill above the lake of Mossul. A house, that endures. A kind of hope like a lighthouse. We name it “Harman”. Bound to a simple promise: We endure. We won’t leave you.
After a long struggle and several construction stops forced by lacking financial support, the “Harman” orphanage opens its doors on the 26th August 2017 in presence of the mayor of Dohuk.





24 children (age from 4 to 15 years old) and five widows move in on the first day. The main building counts eight sleeping dorms with a total of 64 beds, a classroom, a playing room, four bathrooms and a wide kitchen. Furthermore the first 12 fully-employed teachers and supervisors introduce themselves under the leadership of Khire Mohnds, the architect of the building. Most members of the team are students that were forced themselves to flee from Shingal.


The next few weeks and months, the team went on to carefully and sensibly build a stable house community among the children and the widows, but also always took the time to meet the needs of the individuals. There are three warm meals a day and a trip to the lake of Mossul every weekend. Every weekday offers 2-4 hours of game- and sport activities and 4 hours of school lessons in Kurdish, English, Maths and Arts. For psychological treatment and to fight trauma the children are introduced to meditation and open trust rounds.




Everyday life in the orphanage

In the orphanage, the children follow a well-structured daily routine. This routine builds the framework for the educational and the trauma therapy programme as well as for the childrens freedom and leisure time.

Kitchen and meals

Without proper nutrition and a balanced diet, the education programme loses all its energy. For this reason, breakfast and lunch are prepared for all children in the educational programme in the large kitchen. Subsequently, they eat together with staff and teachers. For those children who live in the orphanage, there is also dinner after the end of the educational programme.


Children’s body care and hygiene are often neglected in UN camps and especially in self-built camps without water supply. In the orphanage, both the children who live in the orphanage and the children who come from the camps in the morning on the Our Bridge school bus, start the day off by showering in the bathrooms, combing their hair and brushing their teeth under the supervision of our staff.

Freedom and leisure

After the end of the educational programme, the children can enjoy two to three hours of leisure time on the premises of the orphanage. In addition to the large playground and the wood workshop, basketball, football and group dancing are offered. In these two to three hours, Our Bridge opens its premises also for the neighbourhood children from the village. On weekends, small outings are organised for the children living in the orphanage, such as bicycle tours or a picnic on the lake of Mossul.


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