For the last nine years, Mercy Corps' Community Action Programme has worked in phases to empower individuals, community groups and local governments to improve life in Iraq.
In addition to working with leaders to strengthen infrastructure and governance processes, we have helped people — especially women — become their own advocates for change. Even children like these have gotten involved in community improvement projects like cleaning up rubbish from the streets.
Now that Mercy Corps' involvement is coming to a close, we have left behind a model that allows communities to identify their own needs and work with local officials to implement an action plan to get things done.
Schools are now outfitted with proper supplies and technologies. Roads are paved. Women have learned to read and know their rights. The future is in their hands.