Spirit of America's Blog
SoA Providing Frontline First Aid In Iraq
Since ISIS took over Mosul in the summer of 2014, Spirit of America has steadily invested over $80,000 into the Peshmerga, the Kurdish military force that is fighting and stopping ISIS. Our latest contribution consisted of urgently needed Individual First Aid Kits (IFAK) for frontline Peshmerga soldiers as they take the fight to the terrorist organization with the backing of U.S. trainers and advisors.
The ability for a military unit to provide frontline first aid to its members is a combat multiplier. Beyond saving lives, the provision of first aid means that soldiers marching into battle knowing that their peers could save them if wounded, fight harder and are willing to move further forward away from rear bases where resources are typically concentrated. Their morale is also higher.
Community Engagement - a Slam Dunk in Niger
I'd like to take a minute to update you on a project Spirit of America recently funded in Niger that we first told you about here. Our partner, a US civil affairs team working to reduce vulnerability to extremism and radicalization in the central Nigerien city of Agadez, recently reopened a refurbished community basketball court. In conjunction with this event, the team co-hosted a basketball game and community gathering with the town's mayor and other local leaders.
The team first got the idea for the court renovation project when the Mayor of Agadez challenged them to a basketball game during their initial meeting. As the conversation continued it became clear that basketball was not only important to the Mayor but that, in this community, it was also closely associated with American culture. In this context, repairing a basketball court and hosting a game seemed like a natural way for the team to start building relationships and goodwill with this vulnerable community and its youth population.
Stopping ISIS and saving lives
One of our main efforts at Spirit of America is helping end the barbarity and evil of ISIS. To that end, we have provided metal detectors, first aid equipment, and more to help Kurdish Peshmerga forces stop ISIS in northern Iraq. Our targeted assistance in response to needs identified by our troops is having an extraordinary impact.
SoA's Zack Bazzi with Captain Dilgash in Iraqi Kurdistan
Read below how your support helped the Peshmerga defeat ISIS, liberate the town of Sinjar and save lives.
One US partner in Iraq is Captain Dilgash. He is a Peshmerga commander who helped liberate Sinjar, a strategic town in northern Iraq. Captain Dilgash and his men used the metal detectors we provided to find roadside bombs that had been planted by ISIS.
Saving Lives on the Front Lines Against ISIS
In a region stunned by violent conflict and instability, few non-governmental organizations operate like Spirit of America (SoA) does in the Middle East. Our mission is straightforward: leverage private sector funds and expertise to support the mission of U.S. personnel deployed in over 30 countries around the globe.
What does that really mean? In Iraqi Kurdistan, this means providing the Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers with nonlethal assistance, including life-saving individual first-aid kits, metal detectors to uncover hidden explosives, and binoculars to see the battlefield. Over the last year, SoA has invested over $80,000 in the Peshmerga, developing their tactical capacity and helping advance the U.S. mission against ISIS in Iraq. (Visit here and here to learn more about this effort).
Peshmerga troops training with SoA provided metal detectors
Yet the numbers fail to tell the whole story. How does this support translate in human terms? Recently, I rendezvoused with Captain Dilgash, the commanding officer of a Peshmerga engineer company that dismantles IEDs (improvised explosive devices) ahead of advancing infantry units – no easy task.
Sharply dressed in green army fatigues, tan combat boots and three stars indicating captain's rank glinting on his square shoulders, Dilgash shook my hand firmly as he greeted me in accented English that he probably picked up from working with American advisors. He exuded calm military professionalism—the sort honed in the fierce fog of war.
Repairing Infrastructure and Quality of Life in Chad
Today, I'd like to update you about a recent project Spirit of America funded in response to local needs identified by a US Civil Affairs team in Chad. The project provided a much-needed pump to repair the water system in Bardai, a desert oasis town in northern Chad. We first told you about this project here.
A new pump will repair the town's water infrastructure and return running water to the majority of homes in Bardai, addressing the primary need/grievance in the area.
Spirit of America Support in Honduras Saves Lives
In September, Spirit of America donated medical equipment and supplies to support the efforts of US Army advisors providing First Responder training to their Honduran police partners. You can read about the program and donation here.
We recently received some impressive feedback about one of the TIGRE medics who successfully completed the course - a first person account of how this basic lifesaving training is being put to use on the streets of Honduras.
Commando TIGRE Reyes is one of only 30 trained and certified first responder Medics in Honduras. I had the opportunity to meet her during the final graduation and was impressed by her fearless nature. Continue to read a vignette transcribed by the senior US advisor to the TIGRES and learn how Reyes used her new skills to save a life.
Reyes and Honduran Police discussing Individual First-Aid Kits (IFAKs) with SoA Field Rep Nicholette Doliva
Search in DC area, fundraising leader for Spirit of America
We are expanding our search for a Vice President for Advancement to be based in the Washington, DC area. Please help us find a fundraising leader for Spirit of America by spreading the word and forwarding this email to your contacts and networks in DC, Virginia and Maryland.
For a full description of the opportunity please go to https://opportunities.aspenleadershipgroup.com/opportunities/72.
Helping vulnerable refugees in the Republic of Georgia
I recently returned from the Republic of Georgia, where a US Army team is working to address the needs of some of the most vulnerable victims of the 2008 Russian invasion. We first told you about this project here.
During the visit, the US team and I distributed Spirit of America-donated school supplies, toys, and heaters to three refugee, or Internally Displaced Person (IDP), settlements along the border with the Russian-supported breakaway region of South Ossetia.
Russian troops backed separatists that took over the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, creating an IDP crisis that persists to this day (photo courtesy of Wikimedia)
In 2008, the Russian Army invaded Georgia to support a separatist movement in the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Hundreds were killed, and hundreds of thousands of Georgians were driven from their homes. The Russians still maintain a presence in both regions, essentially rendering reunification impossible and preventing those Georgians from going home. As a result, thousands remain stranded in IDP settlements along the borders of the breakaway territories.